I’m truly blessed to have talented friends. Two colleagues of mine, both amazing teachers, sing in the Sudbury Chamber Singers. Tonight, I went to hear them sing John Rutter’s Magnificat at The Church of the Epiphany on Larch Street. It’s a beautiful church. Burned down to the ground a while back, the parishioners rebuilt it and my favourite part is going to concerts there. Everything seems elevated. The light, the sacred space, the music. The accoustics are amazing and, if you close your eyes while choirs are singing, you feel you might be somewhere else….another dimension, perhaps.
If you haven’t heard it, you can check out Rutter’s Magnificat online….here’s a link to just one wonderful part of it. Imagine, while you listen to it, that you’re in a wonderful church with brilliant stained glass and that bright golden evening light streaming in, lighting up the faces of the singers in a rainbow of colours. Just close your eyes and let it wash over you, if you’re open and willing. A challenge, perhaps, to cast off the stresses of your day and lift up your heart and soul to the heavens!
Sitting there, watching my friends Brenda Thompson and Brittany Goldsborough sing, I thought, “Oh, my goodness….God works in mysterious ways!” Obviously, you start to wonder….Who wrote this? What inspired him? How did it feel, for him, to feel such great emotion and brilliance move through him in his composition? I often think the same thing when I see a brilliant piece of art, or literature, but listening to music, and especially vocal pieces, always seems to make me ‘shift spirit’. The work itself is in Latin, a dead language spoken by men and women who wore togas so long, long ago, and I did take two years of Latin at university, but all I can remember — honestly, now! — is how to say “hello,” which isn’t something that will come in handy in the year 2013. (The people I might have said hello to in Latin, well, they’re long gone….and my knowledge of the physical and geographical layout of Pompeii is rusty now, some twenty-five years after my highschool Latin class at Marymount College.)
Regardless of the difference in language, the barrier itself seems to melt away when I listen to music. It doesn’t matter what the words mean, or even if I have an English translation near at hand, but I often feel weepy when voices converge in a church, and when voices become orchestra in a most amazing way. Music sung in Latin, so often ‘churchy,’ also appeals to me. What a way to worship something divine and the source of all creativity but to sing? It reminded me, tonight, of why I love to sing. I don’t need people to hear me, or to have them tell me I have a half decent voice, but I love the way my voice ripples out of me and how sound transforms into emotion. Hearing others sing moves me even more.
I loved the Magnificat and, upon reading about Rutter himself as a composer, I found out that he composed “This is the Day” for Prince William’s wedding to Kate Middleton just over two years ago. That, too, was a piece that I thought was stellar. I’ll post the link here, again, for you to appreciate as much as I have tonight. I’ll also post a bit with Rutter himself as he speaks about how music works historically, especially in terms of Royal occasions.
The night was perfect. I saw three old friends: Marion Pitkethly, a friend I used to Irish ceili dance with back in the 1990s, Mrs. Soganich, a family friend who was also my Guidance counselor in high school, and Mrs. Murphy, who was one of my favourite History teachers at Marymount. Plus, to top it all off, I had a wonderful chat with a student who recently graduated, Margaret Huneault. I love seeing my past students. Their stories of where they’re headed, what they’re doing, and who they’re becoming, always seem to inspire me to be a better teacher and person.
How can music do this? Connect, reconnect, lift up spirit, re-engage, inspire, help us to envision and then re-envision ourselves anew? It’s powerful.
On a lighter, unrelated note, thank you to those of you who have recently followed my blog, especially those poetic types from around the world who have taken part in the Great Poetry Giveaway. I promise that I will announce the draw winner this Sunday evening. I’m swamped with marking Grade 12 English essays this week, and with decluttering my parents’ house as I get ready to move into my own place, so all is creative chaos right now. Have faith. I will post again, and more frequently.