This is the beautiful cover on the program for last night's performance of "Transform" by the Los Angeles Master Chorale; their second concert this season. To me it illustrates the theme of the concert's two major choral works perfectly. Yes, there is a "light" at the "end of the tunnel" so to speak/sing. If fact, you may not have to wait until "the end", to "transform". You can "Transcend" even now.
I started to transport myself to L.A. about 5:15P.M. It was very hard to go because I had a home full of sons and grandchildren. It was one of those "unplanned" events where you get the rare chance to get (almost) the whole family together. It happens about once a year or less...lately. However, we had just had pizza and I noticed that the girls were talking "girl talk" and the guys were into computer games and the grandkids were either just waking up or off playing the piano so...I took off for my pre-planned "bit of heaven" a choral concert. It took exactly 2 hours of frustrating slo-mo crawl to get to "The Disney" (concert hall) Yes, I arrived about 5 mins. too late and they wouldn't let me into my down-front edge seat. It was OK. My head was still buzzing. I watched a bit on the large Hi-Def screen over the bar. The sound was fine. The picture never changed though. ie. no zoom-in's to the soloists (who were fabulous) So...I had a $3.00 cup of warm coffee and a $3.00 cookie packet. The attendant said that was their minimum price; and listened.
I tried to enjoy "Rio de Sangre Suite" by Don Davis, I was impressed with the virtuosity of the soloists and perked up when I heard the chorale come in. Rich and full sounds with full percussive accompaniment. I couldn't get into the libretto or the translation much since I was so removed from the auditorium. It just wasn't "live" enough. I was wondering and hoping they had put in a device like they have at the Santa Fe Opera with a scrolling translated libretto read-out that you can touch in front of your seat. Guess not. So I just didn't get into the story line but just enjoyed the dynamics of the music.
During the intermission I went in and took my regular "season-ticketed" seat...or tried to. The fellow in the next seat had used it to store his folded jacket. So, I sat next to my seat which had more leg room anyway. Then, when everyone came back, those same three seats were still not being used, so I stayed there. The stage crew was busily rearranging the stage to accommodate less percussion and a beautiful harpist. I was all ready to be "transported" and "Transformed"... "Requiem" by Gabriel Faure.
Ah...indeed I was. This is my favorite requiem. We have a history together. I first got to sing it in the Church Choir of the Presbyterian Church in Eagle Rock.* My High School Choral teacher, Mr. Skance, was the choir director at that church and he needed a few more male singers. It was my first requiem and I sang bass/baritone. I fell in love with it. The romantically melodic phrases and themes kept "singing" in my head long afterwards...to this day...it is so familiar. I've probably sung it three or four more times with different chorales. Chills.! I have several favorite passages but, I suppose, my most favorite is the "Libera Me" baritone solo and choral response "prayer" I have memorized it over the years and have used it twice to "audition" acappella for choirs. It is so poignant and pleading.
I was newly informed again by Victoria Looseleaf's notes in the program about Faure's work and his life. "...It opens with...rooted-to-the-earth D-minor chords but ends up in a magnificent literal and spriritual paradise, the tuneful treatment approaches death "transcendently". This is how I see death also...intimate, peaceful, adoring. Faure said he saw death as "a welcome deliverance, an aspiration towards happiness beyond the grave, rather than a painful experience." He wondrously accomplishes this harmonically and dynamically thanks to the expressive interpretation by Maestro Gershone and over 150 talented musicians. (I'd guess) This is part of the transcending thrill for me ie. to see his direction and facial emoting as he leads. I could hardly keep myself from "singing along" with the familiar words.
For many years now I've been a meditator. One of the continuing goals of my daily meditation is "transcendence". Last night's concert was about as close as it gets for me. I truly do transcend and transform myself, my thoughts, my very being when I hear such wonderful music. It inspires "a hope" in me that I'm incapable to express...tears of joy are all I have. Bob