Saturday, 18 August 2012

Et lux perpetua

The choir performed Verdi's Requiem last night, and our second performance is tomorrow afternoon. We sang well, and the audience seemed very happy with it. The Requiem is a work in which you can sing your heart out, and always respect. It is a big and a strenuous sing. To soaringly sing all those top notes gives immense pleasure.

I woke up this morning having lost my voice. Some germ crept in and attacked my vocal cords. It is disconcerting to wake up voiceless. As the morning progressed, my voice came back and I am able to emit some notes, but I am having to be very cautious.

It is not an easy work. It has complicated fugues, with fluctuating tempi, and it is easy to become lost. You think you know it, and then it pops up and says to you " I am not so easily mastered: you must try harder". So you try harder, and sometimes it all comes together, and other times it can fall apart, and you think 'Oops' and resolve to do better. Even the professionals can flounder. The music traverses the many and conflicting human emotions and reactions to the end of our being.

But Oh! When it works, it is simply glorious. The music reverberates in your head, and you could sing it all day, and never tire of it. I am listening to some early music as I write, but what my mind is hearing is the Verdi. And I think about what a fabulous composer, and how miraculous he was. We immerse ourselves in his sound, in the complexity of his composition, in the emotion that a Requiem creates.

I have sung a number of Requiems since I became a chorister, and each has brought its own message about dying, and the meaning of the texts. One cannot really explicate how music works on us all: only that it truly seems to meet a fundamental human need and emotion.

I never tire of such music. There is this fundamental message: we all die, and this is what happens. Whether or not we believe, we are caught up in the solemnity and the finality of death. Truly it passeth our understanding.

The glory is in the music. Music is what moves the soul, what expresses the emotions, what activates so much of the brain, the mind and the heart. Is it not marvellous that human beings have created such wonderful sounds? Is it not strange that sheeps' guts should hale souls out of men's bodies?
There is so much glorious music, which taps directly into our hearts and minds, into our emotions, and, dare I say it, into our souls?

We are so blessed.


VioletSky said...

I would love to hear your choir singing.
I was in a mass choir for a few years (in another life!) but really I cannot sing and needed those 199 other voices surrounding mine.

molly said...

I love to sing too but my voice is only fit for performances in the shower! Looked on youtube but they're all old and blurry. You should get someone to record the next performance and put it on youtube!

Elephant's Child said...

And music is often the last thing to be lost when dementia takes away the person we have known. Music seems to be a deep seated and fundamental issue.
PS: I am now on my fifth attempt to prove I am not a robot. Sigh.

Laura Jane said...

I miss singing in a massed choir!
I am not a religious person, but singing sacred music is an utter joy, and I know JUST what you mean about getting such a buzz from the performance.

I was high for DAYS after singing Elgar's Dream of Gerontius.

Hope the throat improves <3

BECKY said...

Hello! I'm here via Elephant's Child. What a great blog you have. I don't dare start reading much of it, though, or I'll never get back to what I "should" be doing this evening! Nice to meet you and I hope I can stop by fairly often! (If you're a friend of EC, you HAVE to be a wonderful person!)