Singing in the Choir

February 21, 2019
  • Stephanie Helwig, Cedar Lane Choir Member

I had been living in Bethesda, MD for almost 2 years and passed by the church multiple times. I kept thinking, I should go in and check it out, but I didn't and time kept ticking along. Then on September 6, 2015, my brother died. I lost my breath and time stopped. When I returned from his funeral, I emailed the church, desperate for something - connection, guidance, love - any and all of those things. Rev. Michelle Collins replied and I met with her the following day. On my way out of the church, I picked up flyers, one of which was for the Adult Choir at Cedar Lane. There was a rehearsal THAT night. I emailed Henry Sgrecci right away and received a welcoming response. Music was what I needed - I didn't know it at the moment though. Truth is, I broke up with music back in 2004. I had not sung in years - for anyone, not even my husband. Funny to find myself back with music - but in that moment, it gave me “something to do.” While I may not have shared much with the choir, I went through a very rocky couple of months when I first joined - the passing of my brother, my grandfather, and a miscarriage. They say things come in three's - so I held on tight to that belief because my three was definitely fulfilled.

Each week, chugging along, I climbed the stairs to the choir loft where I was welcomed with smiles and greetings. I was never judged. I was accepted as I was, beautifully broken but healing. I’ve taken a few breaks from the choir over the past three years, mainly surrounding childbirth and the wonderful demands of motherhood. I am always welcomed back with open arms. The choir family is truly that - my second family. I may not always know the right things to say, or stand there awkwardly in silence instead of words, but in the loft every Wednesday and Sunday, I find my own little voice filled with song. The choir has given me the strength and desire to sing again.

When Henry and Jenny Lynn Moyer asked me to fill in as the soprano soloist for the Benefit Concert performing John Rutter’s Requiem, I very nervously, but graciously, accepted. The biggest thing standing in my way was myself. Cliché, but so true. After the first rehearsal, my choir family clapped. They didn’t hear my imperfections or missed high notes (specifically that cursed B flat!). Instead they lifted me up and loved me, B flat or not.

(Note from the Director of Music: Stephanie sang beautifully in the Requiem!)