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Rehearsal Days 1-3: In the year of the pandemic

      The peculiar circumstances of 2020 have altered our expectations and experience of making music together, but we thank the Lord for the opportunity to do so in any fashion. As a first-time ensemble member, I have no previous Laudate rehearsals with which to compare the past two days, but for myself, the last few months of isolation, distancing, and a dearth of musical experience make this week of singing together extra special. 

We spent months working to learn music that we were not sure we would get to sing as a group. When we sang those songs together for the first time this week, I felt a touch of redemption for some of the losses that the Covid-19 pandemic has brought for me, and I imagine for many others. 

I am reminded of the power music has to communicate, to inspire, to heal, and to bring hope. Yet more, I am reminded of our need for relationship - relationship with other people and with our Father. Making music with sixteen other people is a joy that makes the lonely months of practicing during March, April, and May entirely worth the effort.

      The ensemble members and director Ken Nafziger convened at Bethel Christian Fellowship on Tuesday afternoon to begin rehearsal, and again on Wednesday and Thursday to continue going over the pieces -  internalizing the notes, rhythms, and dynamics on the page and learning to express them as music and as worship. 

After four hours of singing on Tuesday, we headed over to Cliff and Trina Stoltzfoos’ beautiful back lawn for some remarkably delicious food, and to enjoy some time getting to know each other and relaxing. Trina puts a lot of time into blessing us with good food and hospitality, and she deserves some special recognition here. Thank you, Trina! 

Wednesday and Thursday rehearsal days concluded similarly with excellent food and getting better acquainted. 

     Some of the changes for Laudate due to Covid-19 include a shortened time together and the cancellation of tour for this year. While the change in plans is disappointing, I am so grateful for the chance to be together this week; the Lord blessed us with health and with safety leading up to our time together, and we thank Him for those things. 

Wearing masks at mealtimes, using hand sanitizer in abundance, and eating outside as often as possible will hopefully help us stay that way. 

After another day of rehearsal, we plan to record some of our songs and  live stream a concert on Sunday evening. Next week we hope to shoot some videos to go with the recorded audio. 

     The songs we are singing this year tell the story of our broken world and our lostness, our need for a Redeemer, and the hope we have in the risen, merciful, powerful Savior. The uncertainty of the past months, the loneliness and losses, left me with a deep longing for this message of hope, and our time rehearsing together so far has reminded me of its truth.

 I am looking forward to the five more days we have together; stay tuned for further updates!

- By Vienna Schmucker

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