(Once again changing my train of thought; apologies for jumping around so much this week. Yom Kippur 5766, continued.)
This was a theater, with a professional sound system, and so I could hear the music swirl around and back at me from all angles. The cellist played the first note of the Ashrei, the prayer beginning the service of Ne'ila. It sounded funny. I looked at her and she looked back, our ballet of quizzical eyebrows lasting a few endless seconds, but neither of us could figure out what the other was trying to say. I decided to start singing, since a thousand people were waiting. The note, I soon discovered, was about five steps lower that what we practiced; a baritone would have been right at home. I'm an alto, fortunately, and was hoarse and tired, so could make the sound. The overall effect would have been a lot better in a cabaret filled with cigarette smoke. But I watched from the bima as everyone watched me, and no one seemed to mind. (The cellist later apologized profusely--she had never before played for so many hours while also fasting. It's not easy.)
The trick is to not to let the audience know when something is wrong... to go on as if nothing were the matter. As you say, no one seemed the wiser... good on you, aa!
Thank you!--and, yes, I've learned that particular lesson the hard way, after many years singing with small groups and, let's see, getting on stage and discovering I didn't have my music...or hearing the person standing next to me whisper, "I think I'm going to throw up..." etc.
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