As usual, we have several people departing for graduate school, returning to school, etc.., but this year we are also losing our best soprano soloist, who is moving to Boston over the summer because of its larger early music scene. So, after the socializing had slowed and the crowd had thinned out, we moved into the traditional singing/piano portion of the evening, starting with noodling, moving on to a few people's show pieces, then to group singing, with a lot of improvisation when we didn't know the words.
We had two-handed ragtime-ish piano; we had solo "real" ragtime; we had solo jazz standards ("Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," "On the Street Where You Live"); we had an Elizabethan song about the glories of tobacco, because our conductor is an inveterate smoker; we had Beatles songs. Pretty soon, the hosts' box of assorted hand percussion, tin whistles, and recorders was handed around, which eventually resulted in a long rhapsody of two-handed piano and tin whistle solo in an improvised Irish style alternating with loud choruses of the "Ode to Joy," sung as "da da da da da da da da," and assisted by maracas. One of our sopranos, who used to compete in Irish stepdancing, danced to piano and tin whistle and maracas, managing to miss the wineglasses on the coffee table with her high kicks. We did not one but two lusty renditions of "The Age of Aquarius" (there was a giant selection of songbooks) and, finally, "Wie lieblich sind deine Wohnungen" from Brahms' Requiem, from memory until the key changed and the piano went wacky because he couldn't remember it. Of course the score then had to be dug out, and we finished the movement, then went on to the next, and our departing soloist sang "Ihr habt nun Traurigkeit" with choral accompaniment, then a break, then to cheer everyone up the big "Herr, du bist Würdig zu nehmen Preis und Ehre und Kraft" fugue except it was hard to see our couple of copies and also read the words and see the bits you couldn't remember, so it was...amusing, a mix of German and random syllables. After we finished it, our conductor, who'd been playing piano, said admiringly, "That was the worst Brahms' Requiem ever."
My voice is a wreck today. I don't even feel like talking.