Excerpt from Observer column by Jean Lowrie-Chin - 28 September 2015
|William Beard Jr (right) with fellow members of the Washington DC Choir|
Our family members were very proud when my brother-in-law, William Beard Jr, auditioned and was selected for membership in the Washington DC 90-member Elite Choir for the Papal Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
|People arriving at the Basilica|
I asked him to share the experience and he sent me this moving account: “I have to go back to 1964 when the Beatles first came to Washington, DC to recall the level of local hysteria that accompanied the arrival of anyone to my beloved town. Not even the first inauguration of Barack Obama in 2009 rivaled the passionate outpourings of my fellow citizens as did the arrival of Pope Francis. Let’s face it, everyone loves Pope Francis and wanted to be part of his visit. My good fortune was being selected as a member of the Papal Mass Choir. It’s still hard to believe that I was one of a select group of singers afforded the opportunity make music for Pope Francis. I know this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I’m still pinching myself that I made it through the auditions. All the composers, conductors, singers, and musicians felt an enormous weight of responsibility for making every note perfect for a Mass of this magnitude. We knew the world would be watching and we needed to execute every pitch and every rhythmic nuance precisely.
“Nothing really prepared me for the overwhelming feelings of joy and excitement upon the Pope's arrival at the spectacular Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. We (the Choir) heralded his arrival with “Tu Es Petrus” (You Are Peter, a reference to the Apostolic Succession) as the crowd slipped into respectfully passionate shouts of “Papa,” “We love you” and other joyful exhortations.
“The entire experience remains fresh as if it happened only seconds ago. It’s as if each moment of my Papal Mass journey is being replayed on a constant loop in my mind. Every rehearsal, all the challenges mastering the volume and difficulty of music, and all of the joy creating a new community of fellow musicians in Christ is seared in my brain and, hopefully, with me forever.”