Growing up, music was always around in my house. My parents had their record player and we would throw on a record on Saturdays- Bernstein’s Mass, Yes, or something else. It depended on whose turn it was to choose. Other days, we would rifle through the CD collection and blast stuff- Queen, soundtracks, and more. There was always a huge variety, and music seemed ever-present. We had a piano, hopelessly out of tune, but it was ours. That meant there was sheet music stuffed in the bench, and in other nooks and crannies. Music was just part of the fabric of my life.
As a result, I had musical pursuits growing up. There was the musical I was in because they needed a small child (how could I say no to getting out of school for a bit to help at the high school?) Next was the children’s choir, and the instrument I just had to learn to play. Mine was the clarinet- all because of Mr. Holland’s Opus. I learned to read music and hold my own part and be an independent musician, all before I started high school.
So throughout high school and college, music was an integral piece of my life. Rehearsals had their own special place in my schedule, and learning and rehearsing music was part of everyday routine. I had discovered a passion that I wasn’t willing to part with despite homework, and stress, and anything else that came my way. At one point, I was working full time, finishing-up my Bachelor’s degree with high honors, taking weekly voice lessons, and singing in the school chorus. It all just flowed together in harmony- pun not intended!
Eventually, I finished my schooling and my chosen profession called. It was time to start working in my field and venture out into the “real world.” The transition to full time employment and life after graduate school wasn’t easy, but I did love my daily work. I enjoyed learning about my job and all the new opportunities my career could afford me. After a while, I found that I was tired at the end of a day. I felt as if I couldn’t really do much besides work and sleep. I barely had time to spend with my boyfriend and we lived together. Something was off and I couldn't quite identify it. It kept eluding me as I simply struggled to survive every day that came.
One night, after another evening spent struggling to keep my eyes open, my boyfriend pointed out to me that I hadn’t sung in a while. “You said it was something that was important in your life. Go find a group. Get out of the house. Go sing again,” he said.
So, I showed up to a rehearsal on a Thursday night in October and I was home. I wasn’t even there more than an hour and I knew I needed to be in this place. It was the kind of feeling that was entirely unexpected but desperately needed. I wasn't scared about the volume of new music to learn, I felt welcomed, and excited about something for the first time in a while. So, I joined Merrimack Valley Chorus. And I haven’t looked back.
Come visit us, and you may end up finding a home, too.
(Kate Bonci sings Bass in Merrimack Valley Chorus and with the quartet, Lashes. She is pictured above with Lashes, 3rd from the left)