This past Wednesday, I went to choir rehearsal, as I sometimes do. Honestly, I don't like most of the music, but the conductor is a fantastic musician whom I believe could make a toad sing. Anything written by Carol Cymbala gives me chills, and I like it because it makes me feel good. I looked through my folder this week and saw a piece of music with a four part vocal score and piano accompaniment. I was almost afraid to look. Could it be something I actually like singing?? My heart starts racing as I look to the top center to see the name of the work: Hallelujah from The Mount of Olives. I'm sure I turned fifty shades of red as I looked to the upper right corner (you know, where the composer is listed) and saw the name Ludwig van Beethoven. I saw the first line of lyrics and instantly remembered this work! Never mind that I haven't seen this music in about 25 years. I remembered it, and it seemed to remember me. I could sing those repetitive "high" notes without any difficulty (prior to 2012, I would have not used that descriptor about those notes), and my "A" was only a little flat. I saw that bit of Beethoven as a precious gift to me; as an unexpected reunion of two old friends. We were just getting reacquainted.
I reposted a cartoon from Eric Whitacre on my Facebook page. It is one where the composer (who looks like a cross between Snoopy and Greg Brady) needs a long rest. Snoopy Greg gave himself 18 bars and was refreshed. I have been following this guy on FB because I like his posts. They are witty. I had no idea who he was. I just thought he was some pop musician I hadn't heard of. A friend posted a photo of herself conducting one of his works. WHAT?? I went straight to youtube to investigate. WHAT??? I have been missing this? Harmony. Dissonance. Dissonant Harmony? Yes! It felt as though I had been given another gift. This is work that I would sing, and it makes me feel good. Good music sends me to a place where I'm transcendent. It makes me feel as if there is hope for the most difficult things to be accomplished (like that maybe Congress would actually act in the best interests of the American people?). I joke about Congress, but I remember them standing shoulder to shoulder all singing, "God Bless America" after 9/11, and I know that as much as the emotion of tragedy can unite people, the expression of that unity during that time came through music. (For example, the first public work done in New York after this 9/11 was Brahms' Requiem).
The power in stepping outside of myself that is delivered on the wings of this music gives me hope for the most unlikely things. To pull sounds like this out of the air, to think in chord structures, in melody lines, and to balance all of that brings together the concrete and the etheric where the earth meets the sky.