Holiday flash mob brings tears

When was the last time you stood up and 'made a great big scene'?

I came across a YouTube video via Facebook that had me crying off and on the rest of the morning. It was a flash mob choir in a food court singing the Hallelujah chorus from Handel’s Messiah. Hearing Christmas music in a shopping mall is inescapable this time of year, but seeing a woman apparently on a cell phone call breaking out in beautiful soprano to accompany the opening bars of this masterpiece was… a bit unusual. She was soon joined by a guy in a grey hoodie who climbed up on a chair and turned into an impressive baritone. Soon 100 people who had been indistinguishable from the ordinary lunch crowd were standing in song. It was too much for me. In a good way.

The tears came from a deep place. This season always reminds me of my mom because of the carols— she was a music teacher and my choir instructor in high school, and we performed a lot of Christmas music over the years. It used to be that I never really ‘felt’ the Christmas season until I sang carols, but slowly over the years the opportunities waned until I couldn’t depend on it anymore. Come to think of it, as a culture we don’t sing around campfires much now either, and singing happy birthday just doesn’t cut it. So are we losing our birthright to sing anywhere besides the shower? How many of us could sing more than two or three songs, all the verses?

A scratched 90's era photo of "my high school choir director" in '78. Yours too? What do you remember?

As an aside, I’m a new Reform Jew now (a baby Jew, Jason calls me), and I’m still getting used to the changing role that Christmas has in my heart. It’s at least a relief to have the right to opt out of the frenzy even though I still carry on some of the traditions for my son. And I love singing the prayers during the morning Shabbat service.

But in addition to the emotional connection to Christmas, I think I was moved by the fairly new form of group/self-expression, or more to the point, an old form in a new context. Taking a choir out of it’s sacred setting and making it emerge—as if organically—from the most mundane situation was amazing. Technology has now made both the capturing and the distribution of video available to anyone, via tiny cell phones and social sites like YouTube (the in-between production is still something of a mystery to me, but my brother does it all the time with inexpensive tools). I guess the hope of a video going viral is part of the motivation to organize such a production!

We all want to be noticed, to have our 15 minutes of fame. But maybe more, we want to be remembered, and we want loved ones to be remembered. This flash mob choir will be noticed and probably remembered, and the video will be replayed by the singers’ kids and grandkids of the future. I’m grateful that I’m in touch with a few high school friends and acquaintances who remember my mother and the gifts she gave her students, but I have no videos, no moments of ‘fame’ to share with my son. I’m grateful she taught me to sing and so glad that we went to almost 10 years of opera seasons before she died. She would have loved the surprise show this choir put on. If she had been one of the startled lunch eaters, she would have stood up and joined in. I hope I would too, but I’m not sure. Maybe as such performances become part of the culture, we will all loosen up a bit and be willing to express our joyful song in public, in some cases just to participate, in others for the chance to be ‘immortalized’.

About Leslie

In my 50th year, I had an amazing transformation that I had actually lost hope of achieving... I started a program that helped me lose 40 lbs and three sizes! The program met all my requirements for being sensible, fitting my lifestyle, nearly cost-neutral, and focused on acquiring habits for long term optimal health. This blog is to share some of what I discovered and what I am still learning. To learn more about my program, go to, or just ask me!
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