Ye now are sorrowful, howebeit ye shall again behold me, and your heart shall be joyful, and your joy no man taketh from you. (John 16:22)
i know i’ve mentioned Brahms before here before but i would be remiss to not mention the experience i had today. somehow out of the ashes of confusion and anger towards circumstances that were beyond our control, something beautiful occurred. in the midst of our run of Ein deutsches Requiem, we reached the fifth movement. and while it has always been performed lovely, i was completely taken by surprise. yet somehow i’m able to recall the exact moment: Mühe und Arbeit gehabt. suddenly, my eyes filled with tears and i was just so overcome with this strange mixture of joy and sorrow that is only explainable through tears. however, my brain told me to snap out of it because i was singing and if i paused for even a moment, it’d be all over. this was the biggest conflict of interests ever. my body wanted to run off stage and weep, as if to release some deep longing and yet, somehow, my lips kept moving. the next thing you know, we had reached the end. wiedersehen! and out of nowhere, as if by God’s command (or Brahms’s), birds began to sing. well that was more than i could handle. the only other time that particular experience has happened to me was in the sanctuary of the Church of the Holy Trinity in NYC where i had an appropriately religious experience singing Saint-Saëns. for me, as a child, i associated birds singing with the idea of the earth speaking to me, reciting a love song. i know it might sound weird but i was a child that was moved by the wind, the sea and birds singing. whenever i felt the most sorrow and the most despair, the birds would come and they would sing.
so just as St. John said, i was sorrowful and was made joyful. the ability to be moved by something so acoustically and mathematically arbitrary, so textually fragmented seems a mystery to me. luckily, it’s a mystery i have no desire to solve and have no business solving in the first place. i’m perfectly content with music happening to me. so many in my field ask questions to reach a deeper understanding of what we do and why we do it but i feel that this deep knowledge can only come from a sort of passive listening that happens with one’s whole body and mind. that’s when the tears come, and the birds sing.
(for you, jessica.)