Monday, June 12, 2006

I heart Bach

On Saturday night, I sang in my first B Minor Mass. I’ve been absolutely awestruck, in the last couple of weeks as I’ve prepared for this performance, by the beauty of this music and how grateful I feel to be a part of it. I sang both the alto and second soprano solos, which is apparently done a lot, since they’re basically in the same range and don’t ever sing at the same time. This makes me a busy girl during the Mass – 3 arias and 2 duets. Certainly more than the alto usually has to do in an oratorio performance! Among them are some of the most gorgeous pieces I’ve ever had the privilege to sing, and I was honored to have the opportunity to perform them. The concert, to top it all off, was in a stunningly beautiful church, built at the turn of the century with amazing exposed brick and wood work. A perfect setting.

I recently began attending classes at a new yoga studio. In one of my classes this week, the teacher had us bring in journals and encouraged us to stop at any time and write down our thoughts. As we were flowing through asanas, she would read passages to inspire us. The focus of that day was finding the truth within us, what we wanted, or were meant, to do with our lives, at our core. And she read some very inspiring passages from various spiritual leaders and philosophers. But what spoke to me most happened while she wasn’t reading. There was some music playing quietly in the studio, and when she wasn’t speaking to us, she was quietly (and probably sub-consciously) singing along. It was so obvious that singing was totally natural to her – and while she sang, her whole body seemed to light up. It was a powerful reminder to me of why I do what I do – I sing because that’s who I am. I’ve had piles of music to learn in the past few months, and with my schedule being what it was, lots of it had to be learned quickly and often at the last minute. It all got learned, but it has at times felt like a bit of a chore. Singing in the B Minor Mass was great because I knew most of the pieces already, so singing them as part of the context of the whole work was like coming full circle.

Even though I was relatively busy during the performance, I still had lots of time to just sit in front of the orchestra and listen. In the second half of the work, I had a duet close to the beginning, and then the Agnus Dei, at the very end of the entire piece. I gave myself time to be aware of my body, mind, and spirit, and to offer gratitude for my voice and the opportunity to work with other great musicians, performing this amazing music. In retrospect, it raised the evening for me from a great performance to an overall wonderful and powerful experience. Definitely something I want to try to keep in mind as I move on to the next performance!


ACB said...

Funny, when I first read the subject line, I read "I heard Bach."

And, it seems, you did!

manprano said...

Love the h-moll. I always try to convince the presenters to let me sing both the alto/sop II parts, but to pay me as though I were two singers!

Ariadne said...

Wo, yes! I heart Bach, too. Totally!

And what you're saying about the heartfeltness, the spirituality, the inner glow, the deep personal connection to the music, yes, that really spoke to me, too.

Thanks for this post! I'll be coming back to it from time to time, for inspiration.