Colleen Potter, Soprano
Imagine standing on the edge of a balcony looking out over a vast auditorium filled with people. Below you, a massive orchestra made up of over a hundred instrumentalists, all playing at full volume. Surrounding you are a hundred other singers projecting high notes as loud as they can. Behind you, the largest pipe organ in the city going at full blast. You are surrounded by sound waves that you can physically feel vibrating through your whole body, lifting you up and out of the choir loft… it feels like flying. That feeling is why I am a soprano in the Calgary Philharmonic Chorus.
I’ve been in the chorus for a decade, but I grew up around the Calgary Phil and its players. My parents worked in the fine arts, and I was really lucky to grow up in Calgary’s classical music scene (not many kids get to play tag in concert halls!) I admit, I joined the Chorus because I like to sing the “big stuff.” Give me an orchestra with extra double basses, a big batch of French horns, an anvil in the percussion section (yes, this does actually happen), a conductor yelling out for, “more soprano!,” and I am in my happy place. All that being said, the other reason I love big works for orchestra and choir is that they contain sections of such contemplative beauty and heartbreaking emotion that you can find yourself transported.
I also love the technicality and sheer physicality of singing classical music – trying to count and tune and emote and doing all of it in Latin! The way everything comes together when we are finally on stage with the orchestra never ceases to amaze me. Coworkers will listen to me complain about how difficult a piece is to learn for months, only to watch me float around on an endorphin rush during concert week.
Being in a choir is to regularly experience the joy of being a part of something greater than yourself – a joy that you share with your fellow choristers, the orchestra, and the audience. The music we sing has challenged, inspired, comforted, and changed me. The emotions we feel and stories we tell have helped me to navigate all that life brings.
And, occasionally, you get to fly.