An Opportunity Not Only to Learn but to Lead: A Class of 2023 Senior Essay

By Adrian Rattray

Beginning to describe how SGC has changed me feels like a massive question to tackle. Growing up, I couldn’t regularly speak until about 6 years old, and it had an extreme impact on my social life and how I interacted with the world. I was isolated from my peers, knowing that my life had been vastly different from most of theirs. I auditioned for SGC without really knowing what I was getting into, or even what it was besides the fact that my big sister had joined for a year in Vivissimi and decided that the sailor dresses weren’t for her.

I was at a bit of a loss at the time, having just quit the sports I had played for years after a season where I not only wasn’t respected but wasn’t valued as a team member. I itched for the tight knit communities that I have watched others develop as they passed me by. On my first day of rehearsal all that I remember feeling was the tiniest hope that I would find one person to talk to. Just one.

I look back to that rehearsal and the first time I did warm-ups with Cantamus, and part way through I was too stunned to continue singing. I just listened to the sound, and let it consume me. I was in a group; I had auditioned for a spot here and was not only accepted but was being held to the same standards as the other singers in this room. And despite that throughout this rehearsal I was consistently reminded that my lack of music theory knowledge showed and that I didn’t know as much as everybody else, I was ready. I was going to fight to keep my spot here and to show up because this was where I wanted to be.

The next two years in Cantamus I had started to come out more, to Mr. Gagiu’s disdain. I had friends to talk to in and out of rehearsals, and I started to grow who I was as an individual through my craft. I pushed myself to absorb everything I could, knowing that I needed to step up musically to keep being here. I found that I had such drive to participate and work collaboratively, and that this was the place I could let that energy out and push myself to lead. Moving up to PV made me even more ecstatic about pushing myself to do more. Even through the pandemic I tried to keep learning, even when some of those Zoom calls just turned into talking about how everyone was holding up. I felt small in virtual choir, unable to really sing with them during this time. This was the bare bones of the SGC community, our group at its weakest point. But it’s something I look back on now knowing that this community does not stop and does everything possible to keep this space for us.

I’ve been thrilled to grow more as a singer post lockdown, and to keep stepping up for my friends and the community that has given more than I can ever give back. I look back and wish I had could have known the power that my voice would grow to have, and not only that it would have power but that it could leave an impact. I have never been given such an opportunity not only to learn but to lead, and there is no better feeling than knowing that I have been a part of this community.