A Note For New Members

Johnna Margalotti '19

Here we are, at the start of another semester that now sprawls dauntingly ahead of me but will once again be far behind me too soon.  Just the other week, I sat in Lincoln Atrium welcoming another round of nervous callbackees, and couldn’t help but become a bit nostalgic thinking of my own Chorus audition freshman fall.  I remember it all so vividly – chatting with upperclassmen who were younger at the time than I am now yet who somehow seemed so mature.  I laughed when a few of the auditoners thought I was a senior, but was instantly humbled to think that they might look up to me just as I looked up to the older Chorus members who calmed my nerves before my own audition. 

That’s when it dawned on me: I am now a middle-aged Chorus woman. I am entering my fourth semester in the group, with nearly half of my career behind me and only half remaining.
As bewildered as I am that so much of my time in the Chorus has already elapsed, I am excited for what lies ahead.  Most importantly, I am excited to welcome a new batch of members to share my remaining time in the Chorus with.  I am excited for them to sing in their first Twilight concert, their first Vespers, their first Commencement.  I am excited to make memories and jokes with them, to make them feel welcome as I was made to feel welcome when I first joined the Chorus. 

So, to my lovely new friends – Katie, Lucy, Gauri, Somi, Dana, and Grace – welcome! I implore you to cherish every moment of your time in the Chorus, because I promise you nothing will prepare you for how quickly it passes.  There will be times sitting in rehearsal when you are forced to tediously sing the same three measures over and over again in pursuit of some yet undiscovered new musical idea, and you will think that those two hours of rehearsal have managed to defy the laws of time and space and stretch out to infinity.  And then, before you know it, you will have survived infinity 40 times over, wishing you could live it all over again because it is such a privilege to be able to enter into this realm that exists outside of time, outside of the daily stress of Cornell.  Enter into this realm willfully and joyfully, always with the awareness that your time here is a finite resource, and glean from this experience all that you possibly can.

My advice to you, and the advice that I hope to heed myself in the next half of my Chorus journey, is to immerse yourself fully – not only musically but also academically and socially – in the incredible experience that lies before you. Be open to new people, new ideas, new ways of thinking and being.  Go to Chariot nights, sing the “Evening Song” on Ho Plaza even when it only 15 degrees outside, sit next to someone new every rehearsal, visit Sage Basement often.  Bring a pencil to rehearsal (and use it). Sing boldly.  And when the next set of new members comes along, remind yourself what it felt like to be in their shoes, and welcome them with open arms.  Keep the circle unbroken.