More Competition Notes

Hi everyone! These notes are from Nathalie, '88. Thanks for checking in on our latest progress. We were pleased with our performance at the Eisteddfod, but we didn't win. Or place. Here's what I think happened to us.

We have come to embody what our Alma Mater calls us to do, and we represent the ideals of the Llangollen International Eisteddfod. Truly.

Consider these few lines from our Alma Mater:
"So from east and from west now we gather
And united in firm love to thee
All years are as one
And their loyal pledge
Mount Holyoke forever shall be."

That's us in a nutshell.

The village of Llangollen started this festival in 1947 "to create a haven of peace and friendship through music... a place where people from all over the globe come together in harmony and share in the music of the world." I couldn't describe it any better myself.

When we got "the call" from Cathy, we all jumped at the chance to participate. Many devoted alumnae spent countless hours working out all of the details. We were excited, but nervous, as we all learned our music alone. Could we really pull this off? We came from 26 states and 50 years of graduating classes. How could this come together?

But it did, starting in South Hadley. Each rehearsal tightened our technique and every performance strengthened our confidence. So on to today.

We had a great warmup in the Chester College Small Hall -- so great that we didn't want to let the moment go. Cathy spoke of past Glee Club t-shirts saying "The toughest job you'll ever love" and "When Cathy says 'sing,' we say 'how high?'" We were pretty high.

We learned on the bus that our newest friends in Chepstow had called in their best wishes for a great competition. Another boost.

When we got backstage at the festival, we applauded the German choir as they came off the stage and we were going on. 'Cause we know good stuff when we hear it and we celebrate it.

We processed on stage feeling really good and gave a strong performance. But the judges thought that other choirs had even better performances. If you look at the scores, they were all in the 80's, so I guess all of the choirs got "B's." There were only 5 percentage points separating first (one of the Czech groups) and sixth (us).

So, are we disappointed? Of course we are. We are Uncommon Women and we want the world to acknowledge and celebrate it.

But here's the thing -- challenging ourselves with something this big shows just how common we are. I haven't checked with the Eisteddfod PR folks, but I bet that there haven't been very many competing choirs with our circumstances!

Perhaps our finest hour was when we kicked off the Choirs of the World concert -- a packed house of 4,000 plus, broadcast live on the BBC -- with a rousing "Go Where I Send Thee!" spiritual. What a rush. And the Welsh lullaby "Suo-gan," sung in Welsh. Not a bad end to an international festival.

I am proud to be singing with the most Uncommon group of women I have ever known. They have brought the meaning of the Alma Mater and Eisteddfod to life.

Thank you to everyone who responded to Cathy's call to help with her dream -- a host of alums, their families, and all of you supporting us at home. What a wonderful adventure.

Respectfully submitted,
Nathalie, '88
Alto 2
American Studies, International Cultural History
VP Account Strategy at
Yamamoto Moss, Minneapolis, MN


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