Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Humble honor

Having returned from the benefit concert, I sit here struggling to put into words what the concert meant for us, for me. There are simply not words enough to share all that is in my heart, but I will try to bring a little of the night to those who could not attend.

The Cathedral of the Incarnation is a stunning Catholic cathedral with a gargantuan sanctuary and welcoming archways. The floor is tiled in a mixture of matte and glossy tiles that knits with the mahogany pews to knit a feeling of polished timelessness. The ceiling vaults to uncalculated heights with delicate murals floating between the buttresses.

Not that that is necessarily what the Cathedral of the Incarnation looks like.

Odds are reasonable that some of the details are incorrect given the many many things my senses were drinking in at the time. But it is probably close enough.

The program was simple and beautiful. A photo of Mom smiles out from the inside page with the following:
"It is a joy, an honor, and a real privilege for me to celebrate the music with you tonight. I am honored by the many gifts of all these singers and deeply appreciative of their services and vast talent. I hope it gives you as much joy and delight as it gives me. For thirty years, it has been my privilege to make music with children, young people and adults. Thanks to the prayers of many, the care of family and friends, and the skill of many doctors in two states. I trust I'll be back making music with everyone soon! Thank you very much for this wonderful music!"

The front pew had been reserved so the distance for Mom to walk from the back door would be small. [She did not wish to use the wheelchair if avoidable.] When we arrived at the pew, we were greeted by a lovely display of flowers for Mom from well-wishers.

The concert was opened with remarks from Mark Wait, Dean of the Blair School of Music and Mom's boss. Did we mention that Mark was up for two Grammy's this year? His comments were wonderful and candid and, honestly, I remember very little of them. I was frankly still overwhelmed to realize we were really at Mom's benefit. We. As in all of us. Me, Rol and Mom. All intact, at least as intact as we ever are.

As those of you in the Nashville area will know, Kenneth Schermerhorn died yesterday. He was the conductor of the Nashville Symphony, a wonderful man by all accounts, and a fixture in my youth (we had a Kenneth in the box-like a Jack in the box but different). Mark did an excellent job of honoring Kenneth's passing while still celebrating the miracle that is Mom's life and recovery.

The Blair Children's Chorus then took stage and performed three pieces including a lovely rendition of Gloria Tibi (Bernstein) with Nicole Naumann in from Boston to sing the solo and a spirited rendition of Cantate Domino.

All I could find myself thinking was 'What a precious gift life is, how grateful I am to You for this gift of my mother back.'

The first interlude was Nocturne for Harp and Organ (world premiere!), by Parker Ramsay. It was poignant and sweet, especially given that the author is 14 years old.

After the interlude, the Vanderbilt University Concert Choir performed four pieces. The first of these was Sing Unto God (Handel) which really resonated with me. During their last piece, Be Thou a Smooth Way (Johnson), I suddenly felt... different. Looking back I found myself thinking, 'This was the moment that You showed me the darkness was past.' It was like coming out of a narrow tunnel after driving so long in the dark.

The next interlude was a stunning solo, The Call (Vaughan Williams), performed by Michael Rickelton. Heartfelt, direct, textured.

Raphael Bundage led the First Pressbyterian Church Sanctuary Choir in two pieces by Robert Shaw. They were just lovely. It was like old, old times to see Nicole and her parents, the Kirbys, the Swansons and everyone else.

The final interlude was Giunse alfin il momento... Deh vieni, nontardar (Mozart) performed by Angie Antkowiak. Her voice was as lovely as her posts have been kind.

The Vanderbilt Community Chorus performed the last segment of the program. By this point Mom was so excited and moved, she couldn't stop wiggling in her seat. She turned to us over and again saying, 'I love these people! I just love these people! They didn't even have to sing. They could have just stood up.'

But they did sing. They opened with My Spirit Sang All Day (Finzi). A joyous and topical offering.

David Childs yielded the baton to John Sevier for a truly spiritual offering of The Snow (Elgar) performed by the women of the VCC. This was followed by Shenandoah (Chilcott). As many in the choir could attest, I found tears trailing down my cheeks. The last time I heard Roland sing Shenandoah, love bubbling over, Mom was still in L.A. in the coma and on the ventilator with recovery so far off as to be unpicturable though always in the imagination. But now Mom sat beside me, so glowing and true, as the music washed over us.

The VCC closed with a charming and playful rendition of 'S Wonderful (Gershwin, arr. Blackwell) after which Mom stood up and made a few comments to a standing ovation. The recital closed with singing of a favorite hymn When in our music God is glorified (Stanford).

We were lucky enough to enjoy meeting old and new friends at the reception thereafter. And so closed a glorious evening of song and fellowship.

Overall, the recital felt like a baptism with all of us washed in the music, love and the glory of God and then emerging strengthened by His/Her love to start this 'new' life with Mom.

It continues to be an honor to know each of you. Thank you all for your continued love and support, for continuing on this exploration with us. I hope I have been able to share a little of the magic of our night with you and I leave you with the closing hymn-


When in our music God is glorified

When in our music God is glorified,
And adoration leaves no room for pride,
It is as though the whole creation cried:

How often, making music, we have found
A new dimension in the world of sound,
As worship moved us to a more profound

So has the church in liturgy and song,
In faith and love, through centuries of wrong,
Borne witness to the truth in every tongue:

Let every instrument be tuned for praise!
Let all rejoice who have a voice to raise!
And may God give us faith to sing always:
Alleluia! Amen.


Blogger Jan said...

Jacqui: What a delight to finally meet you! Your description of the concert captured the spirit of the evening perfectly. The Cathedral is an inspirational place to sing and allows us to soar. Blessings to you, Roland, and the Team once again for bringing Pam back to us.

The events of Aprils past and present are an ironic juxtaposition of how fragile life can be and at the same time how powerful the human spirit is when it rises to overcome incredible odds. (I think I borrowed that from Dean Wait.) The week of April 19 is especially full of memories to which we can add the memory of our joyous gathering for Pam.

Do more Yoga! Peace. Jan (N)

10:32 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home