Music Worthy of Creating Lifelong Memories: A Class of 2021 Senior Essay

By Sophia Hillstrom

I have been in the Seattle Girls Choir for 9 years. I joined when I was in 4th grade when I started singing with Allegra. My most distinct early memory of SGC was listening to Prime Voci sing “There is Sweet Music” by Daniel E. Gawthrop. That was the moment I knew that I would continue to be in SGC until I graduated. I have always been so touched by the music this organization is able to create, it is truly a special group of people who put their heart into every note and phrase, and a group of people who care deeply about each other.

SGC has taught me values that I believe are core parts of me as a person, and musician. On our trip to Wales in 2018, there was a moment before our first performance on the big stage. In Prime Voci, we say “I love you, pass it on” before every performance we do. This time was different, because we passed hugs down the line. To me, this is a representation of a value that SGC has given me. I will always cherish and make an effort to have a close bond with everyone I perform with, because that performance we gave that day proved that when you have a deep love of everyone you are performing with, the music turns into something completely unique, and the performance is infinitely more meaningful.

Before we left on that trip, we spent the first week of summer in a church basement for seven hours a day. We could have all been doing other things with our first week of summer, but we had a vision of what we wanted our performances in Wales to look like. We put so much preparation into each of our pieces, many of them were quite difficult (I’m specifically thinking of “Chorus from Shelley’s Hellas, by Rebecca Clarke). This is my representation of my next value: You cannot only work hard to get what you want; you have to believe in yourself as well. We believed we could make music worthy of creating lifelong memories (and making adjudicators cry because the music was so beautiful…we did). We worked hard to make those visions a reality.

The final value does not have a specific memory attached, because it’s in every memory I have with SGC. That is that I must always connect my emotions to make touching music. It is my honor to invite everyone singing, and listening to feel those emotions with me. I have never felt as much at peace as when I was singing the recessional to Ceremony of Carols my freshman year. I remember crying after singing “Mary Speaks” in the basement during intensives. I have never felt the same amount of clarity as when I sang “Hope.” These are just a few examples. My point is that SGC is truly a gift when it comes to experiencing beautifully touching music, because when you have a group of people all having their own emotional reactions to the music they are making, it is a vulnerable experience for anyone listening.

Now that I am nearing the end of my time in SGC, I look back on the 9 years I have spent in this organization and there are so many feelings because of how much this organization has meant to me. I am so grateful for everyone that has helped bring me to where I am now. SGC has taught me so much about music theory, ear training, ensembleship, and musicianship. So to ALL SGC faculty, staff, and choristers thank you. It is thanks to your help, guidance, and belief in me, that I am able to study music next year. Thank you, I am grateful to have been in this organization.