I'm a newcomer, a regular guest due to my other choir commitments, which frames what the choir means to me.
For me, St. Philip's Choir means "community" and "tradition". I first heard the choir sing Britten's "Ceremony of Carols" a month after I moved to the area. I was struck by the top notch ensemble work and solos I heard in this beautiful, historic country church, and by the immediate warm welcome I received from Woody and the choir. I had been feeling a bit lonely and homesick for my former church community, and knew right away this would be my new choir home.
My score of Handel's Messiah is inscribed with layers of markings from an unknown number of performances. As a I marked in Woody's phrasings, I reflected on the continuous thread of music in my life, bringing me into new communities, leading me to be baptized as an adult, even while still doubting my worthiness to be a Christian. As we rehearsed Paul Manz's "E'en so, Lord Jesus, Quickly Come" during advent, my heartstrings were gently tugged as I remembered singing this achingly beautiful anthem with my former church choir, and, indeed, why I first came to church. I realized that this is home now. The old phrasings are still etched in my memory, but I will weave new threads in with the old.
Thank you, Woody, for building this remarkable community and helping me to continue to weave the fabric of my musical life. Every person in the choir has unique stories and connections with music and reasons for being here. Your musicianship, kindness, and humility create a culture where we can work together, hone our skills, and help us understand and illustrate the Word.