What is it about singing that you love the most?
That’s such a hard question! I cannot remember a time when I didn’t sing. But I guess what I love about singing is that you can create something beautiful, literally out of nothing but air. I also love choral singing in particular, because it is so immersive. When you’re performing, or rehearsing with a choir, you need to be totally in the moment, watching the conductor and listening so you can blend with the voices around you. You’re not thinking, “oh I need to pay those bills,” or “I hope there’s not too much traffic tomorrow.”
When did you start singing with The Choral Project and what prompted you to join?
I started singing with The Choral Project two years ago, shortly after I moved here from New York. I’ve always loved to sing, and I honestly can’t even remember a time when I wasn’t singing with a choir, so finding a new choir to sing with here in the Bay Area was one of my top priorities. I knew very little about the choral music scene here and didn’t even know anyone to ask, so I feel incredibly lucky to have found The Choral Project. I love that so much of the repertoire we perform is written by composers who are alive now and continuing to create new music.
So many choirs focus on the old classics like Handel, Faure, and Mozart, and that music is beautiful. I mean there’s a reason it’s survived so long. But there is so much incredible music being composed right now, and if that is going to continue, that music needs to be heard and appreciated. I love being a part of that.
Why did you decide to join the board of The Choral Project?
I was a member of the board of directors of the choir I sang with in New York, and I really enjoyed it. I love the camaraderie, working with a group of people who have the same goal: to promote our choir and help to make it as good as possible.
Do you have a go-to album or musician that puts you in a good head space?
Well, I always feel better when I’m singing, so I tend to listen to music with which I can sing along. However, one album I really love is the recording of Anais Mitchell’s musical, Hadestown. It opened on Broadway last year and won a bunch of Tony Awards, but I actually started listening to the concept album in 2006. I’m not even sure why it appealed to me so much, but I used to play it for my kids, and we would talk about the story of Orpheus and Eurydice, and Hades and Persephone. We finally got a chance to see a live performance when it opened off-Broadway in 2016, and it was just magical to see this show that we pretty much knew by heart come to life. It’s actually a really sad story, but it still makes me happy to listen to it.
Other than singing, do you have other hobbies? Maybe a hobby you have been enjoying during quarantine? I’ve been taking piano lessons for the last two years, and in fact my playing has improved enormously since the quarantine started. It’s actually really exciting. I’m finally starting to feel like I’m making music rather than just struggling to figure out which finger goes where and trying to get my two hands to work separately.
Have you succumbed to any of the quarantine fads and trends like baking your own bread, tie-dying, or making and drinking dalgona coffee?
I admit I have been baking a lot of bread. However, that actually started when we first moved to California. I very quickly realized that the stereotype of California having terrible bagels was completely true, so I started baking my own. It took a lot of trial and error—different techniques, different types of flour, diastatic malt powder vs. malt syrup, a quick rise in a warm oven versus a slow overnight rise in the refrigerator—but I finally have a recipe I really like.
Do you and your family recommend any destinations in the Bay Area you have discovered and enjoy visiting together that allow you to venture out while responsibly socially distancing?
So Sammy, our Havanese, is the first dog we’ve ever had, and our kids are mostly grown up now, so it’s kind of embarrassing the extent to which our outings revolve around things that Sammy would like. We’ve spent a lot of time at the Los Gatos Creek Dog Park. We also enjoy hiking in dog-friendly parks, and I would definitely recommend both Almaden Quicksilver County Park and the Fremont Older Open Space Preserve.
As an occasional treat, my husband and I like the Los Gatos Soda Works cocktail bar. They have a really pretty patio where you can sit outdoors and have a cocktail and a snack, and the tables are spread far enough apart to easily satisfy social distance requirements.
What is the first place in the Bay Area you can’t wait to visit when it is safe to be around others in public?
I really miss seeing live music, of course, but also, my family and I are big fans of the San Jose Earthquakes, San Jose’s major league soccer team. They’re really fun to watch, and the stadium always has at least 10 food trucks serving everything from tacos to bulgogi so I’m really looking forward to seeing them play again.
Photos were taken by The Choral Project Board Member, Nada Marriott, who observed all rules of social distancing while using a long-distance camera lens. | © 2020 Nada Marriott