Atlanta, GA, June 17-21, 2024
BY LILY SAVAGE
A Reflection on the National Honor Choir
Aristotle in his treatise, Politics, defines the purpose of music as “leisuring well.” By leisure, he means the finding of pleasure and happiness in contemplating what is good. A well-educated and free person, in Aristotle’s view, delights in the beauty of harmony and song. True melodies are deeper than just rhythm and pitch. Music forms community through something uniquely human. Music shapes our concept of beauty. It retains cultural memories and brings social cohesion. Music is powerful.
When I first heard of the ACCS National Honor choir in 2019, I was instantly intrigued. Partly because I was the oldest student in a growing classical Christian school and wanted a chance to connect with other like-minded classical Christian students across the country. I would not consider myself an incredible singer, but my wonderful choir experience at my own school sparked a desire in me for something more. Because of the Covid disruption, I did not get a chance to audition until my senior year, but I was still determined to go. Even though the audition process was rigorous in the midst of senior thesis preparations and college applications, I can honestly say it was truly worth it.
My experience at the Honor Choir week far exceeded my expectations both in the quality of the community of students and the quality of the directors leading the experience. The music we studied was unifying, bridging geographical and social differences because it spoke to a special part of what it means to be human. The intense nature of the schedule and late night rehearsals quickly formed camaraderie oriented towards a worthy goal. It also fostered many fond memories such as spontaneously singing four part harmonies and rounds in stairwells on our way to meals.
Likewise, our marvelous conductor, Dr. Erb, director of the Music Conservatory at New Saint Andrews College, was both technically gifted and spiritually intentional. As a master of his craft, he stressed not only how to sing properly, but also how to dig deeply into the profound truths we were communicating through song. Over the course of the week, I came to a new understanding of the significance and meaning of each piece as well as techniques required for excellence in this art form.
Ultimately, the Honor Choir experience was powerful because of how Scripture and music were thoroughly connected throughout the week. The theme of the music, from Vivaldi to Mendelssohn, was “Living in the Fear of the Lord.” Looking back, I cannot imagine a better stepping stone into my new season as a classical Christian school graduate. Even months later, I still sing the words of the pieces we learned when I need to be reminded to live in fear of the Lord and not in fear of man. Studying the integration of Scripture and culture was a crowning moment as a classical Christian high school student. Every classical Christian student should consider participating in the Honor Choir as the way to leisuring well this summer.
~Lily Savage graduated from Philadelphia Classical School and is a freshman at Grove City College.