03 December 2007

Hitting a high note

I've never ingested drugs in my life, but I can't imagine that the high would be any greater than the high of just having performed one of the most most triumphant works of classical music, seeing the crowd leap to their feet in an instantaneous standing ovation, and hearing shouts of "Bravo!" ring from the balconies of the grand, gilded hall.

By all accounts, the sound in the audience on Saturday night was spectacular: I only wish I could have been both singing with the choir and listening out in the audience. In those moments where the endings of the most powerful choruses hung in the air, we got some of the reverberation back to us and a sense of what it must sound like to someone who doesn't have that booming bass and that fortissimo soprano in her ear, where the voices and orchestra are fully blended and balanced.

I'm often surprised by the musical moments that make every molecule in my body stand up on end: this time around it happened in the alto solo, He Was Despised, in the choral response, Surely He Hath Borne Our Griefs, and of course, Hallelujah and the final Amen, where the sopranos hit that high A and everything comes welling up together. Ironically, it's hard to sing when that happens: there's a necessary balance between feeling the music emotionally and being distanced enough from it to remain technically on task. But I selfishly give in to the emotion from time to time, and move through the music from the inside out.

Fortunately, we get to perform again next Saturday, in Tournai. The Mister and I plan to go early, with some friends, and see the city before the evening concert. I'm looking forward to repeating this weekend's experience, although not as much to the exhaustion of a three-hour performance! (Somewhat unusually, they didn't make any cuts at all in the Messiah.)

So what I didn't explain very well on Saturday, when I dashed off my post, is that I'm going to take the month-long thanksgiving theme of November, and make it into a (nearly) month-long advent theme. Every day, I'll try to write about Christmas preparations, in the sense that (I hope) each activity becomes an act of joy and anticipation, instead of a laundry list of ThingsToDo. It'll be a nice way to focus the blog for another thirty days (!) and see if I can keep this up. My sister gave me the idea, and referred me to this list of suggestions (the picture to the left is from the same place). Singing the Messiah was a great way to begin on Saturday.

Today I plan to purchase Bing Crosby's Christmas album, and listen to it until even the poinsettia starts drooping with saccharine overkill. (I'm hoping it'll help cure a mystery ailment that I woke up with today: my jaw won't shut properly and it's very painful to chew. Not good.)

Yesterday our advent activities included delivering a cheerily-wrapped Christmas present for a child in a homeless shelter, participating in the inauguration of our church's gorgeous new stained-glass window, and beginning the season with familiar hymns of anticipation:

O come, O come Immanuel,
and ransom captive Israel
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear:
Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel
shall come to you, O Israel.

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