1. it has a balance of male and female voices, while many 'choirs' or singing groups I hear in most churches have only a few male voices;
2. they apparently practice more than a couple of hours, or half an hour, before church service. I've heard MANY youth choirs that SOUND like the music was thrown together a couple of hours before service. When a choir's voices are precise and together, that diction and dynamic are a great joy to hear;
3. they're joyful. Two ladies near the front are especially expressive and demonstrative, and certainly not only them. The people seem very happy to sing God's praises;
4. they can sing songs where lyrics are slow but the instrumental background is energetic, melodic, quick. That combination gives flow and excitement at the same time.
This is not a matter of race, but of culture: once (I date myself with this reference) I played some singing by Captain and Tennille for friends who were certain that Toni Tennille was black until I showed them her photo. A person who has grown up with a particular sound can often sing that sound naturally. Coming into it later takes longer-term training to catch up.
Other choral traditions also have plenty of other gorgeous music, of course. The Robert Shaw Chorale (check their patriotic album), the Harry Simeone Chorale (check their Christmas albums), the Ray Conniff Singers (sometimes 16 singers, sometimes less) and other choirs of 16 voices often combine depth and agility to provide truly incredible music. Many cathedral choirs release CDs of intricate, exquisite music. And there is room for the grandeur of a mass choir, even though the sound is sometimes ponderous and heavy--the Billy Graham Crusades mass choirs, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and large choirs seen in major concerts can sometimes give the sound of a waterfall for sheer number of voices (all tiny examples of what Revelation describes a mass choir sounding in Heaven).
While driving around New York City, I observed:
1. Hell's Kitchen was frozen over.
2. Times Square is a lot smaller than I thought it would be--not very impressive as a place to start the new year.
3. The Empire State Building, as Noel Coward would say, is 'big. Very big'. But King Kong and the airplanes were strangely absent.
4. I gave 'my regards to Broadway' and told 'all the gang at 42nd Street' that I would soon be there.
5. Trees grow in Brooklyn.
6. I did not see a miracle on 34th Street.
7. I did not buy the Brooklyn Bridge.
8. As soon as you drive onto the streets bordering the southern end of Central Park, you come into very obvious money, and equally true on the northern end, some of that glory has departed. This is puzzling because the apartments facing the north side of the park would be facing south, and in a cold climate, it seems they would be more desirable than north-facing apartments, but I guess when you have THAT much money, utility bills are inconsequential.
9. I did not shop at Saks on Fifth Avenue, or at Macys.
10. Manhattan looks down its nose across the water at New Jersey and at Brooklyn, but actually, by the time you get to 'the Bowery, the Bowery where they say strange things and they do strange things, the Bowery, the Bowery, I'll never go there anymore', qualitatively you're already in Brooklyn-New Jersey. Manhattan can retort by saying, yes, the Bowery is not any more classy than Brooklyn, but on the other hand, Manhattan ALSO has Central Park, Fifth Avenue, Park Avenue, Broadway, Wall Street, all of which is true, of course. But Manhattan has ridiculous parking problems, and thanks to the internet and DVDs, a person can buy from the stores and can see Broadway plays and can enjoy the real natural world far away from Manhattan, can work online, too. So the idea if you're going to Manhattan is this: do as much as possible away from there, and if you absolutely must go, schedule compactly so that you can get in, get done, and get out. Even if you're a billionaire, why be a billionaire in Manhattan when you can be one in so many more beautiful places?
11. I can see how Henry Hudson, when he first started sailing up the mouth of the tidal river that now bears his name, thought that this might be the 'Northwest Passage'. As he got upstream, however, he found out it was just a river.
12. The East River, Douglas Adams of Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy said, fosters evolution of new life forms which emerge from the water, walk up on land, and start driving taxis. Based on how some taxi-drivers drive, this might be true.
13. I did not observe the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall
14. I wished I could have gone in the Met and seen exhibits there.
15. With a nod to Simon and Garfunkel, I sang part of 'The Boxer' while driving on Seventh Avenue, but did not get to Bleeker Street.
16. I also missed Greenwich Village, which a local yokel told me is pronounced 'Grenich'.
17. I was about 30 minutes from Broadway, so if I'd been another 15 minutes away, I could have sung, '45 Minutes from Broadway, think of the changes it brings/ What a short time it takes, what a difference it makes in the ways of the people and things...they have whiskers like hay and imagine Broadway only 45 minutes from here!' (this, and 'Give My Regards to Broadway' and 'The Bowery' are all, I think, best heard on Bing Crosby's Sing-Along album).
I told people about the above driving tour, and one lady protested, saying I had missed Broadway shows, Christmas shows, the wooden escalators and giant trains in Macys:
- About Broadway shows: I've heard of DVD. I spend less, I save parking, I can watch them in my sweatsuit on a big screen. I can see it when I want. I can hit the pause button to go to the bathroom or get my dark chocolate almond milk and double chocolate doughnuts. And the one investment means I have it again and again and can share the DVD with other people or use it for teaching;
- About Christmas shows: I've written a pageant, also a comic youth Indian Christmas play, am working on a Christmas opera. And there are MANY Christmas shows already produced, as well as Christmas films on DVD. So we can make our own Christmas program, have loads of fun doing it, record it, reach our community, do it with class and style, have many Christmas-themed programs reaching the neighborhood. I can watch the DVDs to brainstorm for my own program, also use the DVDs to confer back with other people in planning stages.
- About wooden escalators and giant trains: OK, I can't build a wooden escalator, but there are many small trains all over the nation, as well as old diner railroad cars turned into stationery diners/restaurants. So a person can get the train feeling without going to Manhattan. I've been on a lot of trains, actually. For the price of the trip to New York, I could do the cross-USA train trip and fly back ($250 train plus return plane fare) and have an incredible experience AND all the photos and video I'd take so that I could bore everyone with it afterward.
But the protestors in favor of NYC shows will be happy to know that later I found a place I can leave my car safely and inexpensively and where there's a handy train and so next time I travel to New York, I can go to Manhattan and not have the parking hassles. I asked where I can buy tickets for everything cheaply by buying them WAY in advance. They responded that they buy them at the last minute in Times Square, and get better deals. I responded, ‘you impulsive person, you. You traveled all that distance and lucked out? If those deals hadn't been available, would you still have been happy with your trip--I'm guessing yes, since you still got the Macy's part.’