“My candle burns at both ends; it will not last the night; but ah, my foes, and oh, my friends – it gives a lovely light!” Edna St. Vincent Millay
I have been in a “growlie” mood for weeks. My youngest coined the term for this crabby-it’s-December-and-I’ve-got-so-much-to-do-for-Christmas-and-my-choirs-are-driving-me-crazy mood when he was about three or four years old. Ironic, since he is now also a professional church musician and can be accused of being “growlie” too!
This year, it’s not my choirs making me growlie, but a group of situations beyond my control. My spouse’s health has been a worry but everything is now fine. We are catching up with our lives slowly, after putting things on hold for a bit, with me conducting a concert (featuring Palestrina) in the midst of his treatment and surgery. I would not recommend doing what I had to do, but I persevered and made it work, nevertheless. Now his father (my father-in-law) has terminal cancer and again, the stress is on.
I am crabby, stressed and yes, growlie. I have tried to carry on, doing what I usually do in December but that Zen Place I so fervently try to get to at this point in this month seems far away. Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men was not happening for me, either, until last week.
Mid-week, my husband mentioned he had won tickets for a choral and brass concert from our local classical music radio station—WFMT—and he insisted we go. To a concert. A December concert I would not be conducting or performing in. And, low and behold, I didn’t have any conflict on Friday, other than making cookies or addressing Christmas cards. Come on, he cajoled me, it will be fun. He was wrong; it got me into the Christmas Spirit and reminded what I love about our profession.
The venue was a lovely old church in Old Town and we parked on the street where my great-great-grandparents had lived. That parking space was somewhat of a Christmas Miracle, if you know anything about parking in Chicago, and the weather was mild for our short walk. The church was beautiful, like the inside of a wedding cake, and the acoustics were wondrous.
The repertoire was a beautiful dream. Beginning and ending with Praetorius, there was Gabrieli, antiphons and chant along with my favorite carol, “Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day” and the obligatory Vittoria; you know the one I’m talking about! I am not ashamed to admit I cried for a good portion of the concert because a weight had been lifted from my heart.
I forgot in the midst of my December busyness, music can lighten the load if we just let it. I hadn’t been able to let it until my husband, to be quite truthful, had forced me to go to that concert. I was able just to listen to the music because I was not the one who made sure the programs were collated; I could just listen and be in awe.
Thank you, Music of the Baroque! Thank you to the singers of the Music of the Baroque Chorus, and the brass players and to the chorus director, William Jon Gray. Thank you for reaching my heavy heart and lightening it just a bit. Love, Marie
And to all my ChoralNet Friends; Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!
Brandon Mullet says
I always enjoy your column immensely, and thank you for reminding us of the human side of what we do. I also love the family stories you incorporate to help us understand the issues. You are clearly a fine human being. Thank you!
Marie Grass Amenta says
Thanks you so much for your kind words Brandon!