A Night in the Cathedral

by on November 16, 2011 » Add the first comment.

The Natananjali Dance Group lines up before their performance. Photo: Helen Fields

Yesterday afternoon I had an exciting trip: A fellow member of the Christmas Revels chorus picked me up at Dulles – I’d just flown in from a weekend in Ontario – and rushed me to the Washington National Cathedral. We were headed there to perform in the InterFaith Concert, which is put on every year by the InterFaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington. (We made it in plenty of time – we even got there before they cleared away the pizza from the pre-concert dinner.)

This year’s concert included sweet singing from the Mormon Choir of Washington and a really nice performance by a choir from Howard University. A gaggle of talented teenage girls represented the Hindu and Jain faiths with a classical Indian dance. The men and women of Sikh Kirtain Jatha sat on the floor to share one of the gorgeous hymns they sing in Sikh services. We performed right after the choir from Temple Sinai, which also sang in the first two InterFaith Concerts, 30-some years ago.

Revelers practice their handclapping for "Ríu Ríu Chíu." Photo: Helen Fields

Washington Revels isn’t a religious group. We were invited to perform because this year’s Christmas Revels is set in a time and place when three major religions coexisted. They weren’t always living in peace and harmony, but still, medieval Andalusia has come to be seen by some people as a symbol of tolerance and acceptance.

For the InterFaith Concert, we sang the spirited Spanish Christmas carol “Ríu Ríu Chíu.” The music for this year’s Christmas Revels is really exciting – there’s a lot of cool rhythms. A few members of the chorus were assigned to execute the complicated hand-clapping rhythm.

Washington InterFaith Concert - view of combined choir

The combined choir sings to open the concert. Photo: Elizabeth Fulford Miller

Now, here’s the exciting part for me: I sang a solo! In the cathedral! I am told that it sounded good. My completely unbiased source for that review is my parents, who were in the audience.

Singing in the cathedral is fun. The singers from all of the choirs joined together at the beginning and end to sing two pieces. It was so exciting to sing a big chord, cut off, and hear it ringing through the huge stone building. The cathedral has been closed since the earthquake in August; it opened for the first time this weekend, just in time to consecrate a new bishop for the Episcopal Diocese of Washington.

The cathedral has a long rebuilding process ahead of it – the building has been declared structurally sound, but they’ll need to rebuild the limestone pinnacles atop the central tower. It was exciting to sing there so soon after it reopened.

Want more information on the show or to buy tickets? Click here!

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