Sounds of Music

When I go to concerts, whether they be local men's choirs, college gospel singers, or professional performers, I am always struck by the fact that these individuals who just spent hours (and often months) rehearsing and perfecting their music, are actually in the act of saying goodbye as the song is born to my ears for the first time.

I first became conscious of this paradox when I was in seventh grade playing violin with the Strings Preperatory Orchestra in Princeton, NJ. We spent months working on difficult pieces like Tchaikovski's Marche Slave -- working on fingering, bowings, dynamics, difficult passages, and bringing it all together with the full orchestra. We were so wrapped up in preparing the piece that it wasn't until I was sitting in my chair at the concert about to perform a difficult passage that I'd remember "hey, this is my last chance at this run!" This revelation always came with a sense of surprise, because who thinks about saying goodbye when you are rehearsing to bring it to life for the first time? You may play the piece someday in the future, but the truth is that at that moment you are saying goodbye to that piece of music as you know it right then -- with those musicians beside you, the late night rehearsals behind you, those ears and eyes in the audience, even who you are at that time in your life -- you are saying goodbye the moment you deliver it to the world. As you speed through the familiar stanzas, all the discussions and jokes that occurred with those pages opened on your stand play through your head one last time -- you barely have a chance to absorb the fact this is your final moment with the piece when you nail that final chord. The music lingers in the air; you can feel it leave your strings, your bow, the crowded warmth that was its home, and stretch out to feed the audience.... applause.

I was inspired by these thoughts while listening to Evan's latest Minnesota Valley Men's Chorale concert a few weeks ago and jotted some notes down in one of my many notebooks I carry around with me (more on that someday later). One of Evan's favorite pieces from this most recent concert is "Sure on this Shining Night" by Morten Lauridsen (arr. by their conductor, Steven Boehlke). I'm pretty sure Evan will never fully say goodbye to this piece as it is one of his favorites. (Evan is in the middle -- can you find him?)

Last weekend Evan and I buzzed down to Northfield to enjoy my sister Sarah's concert with the St. Olaf Gospel Choir. What an enthusiastic and spirited group! (Sarah is the third from the right in the second row)

video

Last fall Evan's choir concert had a special treat: Mary Wilson, world-famous soprano opera singer and daughter to the conductor (also a graduate of St. Olaf!), graced us all with her presence, and beautiful voice! Here is a slideshow I made with some of my favorite nature photos taken throughout the past few years - and the wonderful voice of Mary Wilson in All is Well. (You may need to turn the volume up as it starts much softer than the previous gospel clip).

I promise it won't be so long before I post again! I have some photos to compile to show you what we've been up to!

3 comments:

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  2. And I missed the other two the first time -- wow, Sarah's group is fantastic! And your slideshow was very well done -- fit the music. Photo-to-Movie I presume? --dad

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  3. Hmm, must have been a typo in the program then because I'm pretty sure I copied it right from there. I'll have to go in and edit that. Maybe Morten Laurensen wrote the original poem, Barber set it to music, and Evan' conductor made his own arrangement of it?

    Photo-to-Movie indeed!

    And did you notice one of your photos in the new header? I should give you credit for that!

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