Random Act of Culture-Opera Company of Philadelphia

Did this past week go by quickly for you?

My days blur into one another and the weekend’s arrival means nothing to me.  Not a thing changes just because the day on the calendar is Saturday.  It feels like a lifetime ago since I had to check the calendar for my work schedule and planned weekend activities.  Now?

Trash day.

Twice a week.

Thank goodness it is twice a week so I at least have two anchors in the fog.

I used to look forward to Mondays.  Well, Mondays at 6:30pm that is.

Did you know that I am a violinist?  Well, was a violinist.  Aside from a few Christmas carols on Christmas Eve 2009 I have not picked up the violin in nearly a year. Possibly longer. Mark thinks that it is a crime that I do not make more of an effort to take my violin out of the case but I have always been the girl that was working, musically, towards something.

Maybe it was All-County orchestra auditions, State Solo and Ensemble competitions…high school concerts and nursing home performances.  Those kind of things.  Up until my 6th month of pregnancy with Corrigan I was working towards the winter and spring concerts on our local community orchestra.  Each Monday night the stage would fill with people from all walks of life, with all levels of talent, led by two women with a passion for the arts that was infectious.  My stand partner, for many years, was a teenage boy who thought that I was the funniest person in the room and worked harder at his violin, and his studies, than any teen I knew.  I left each rehearsal with a smile on my face and walked to my car with a bounce in my step.

I was due to give birth to Corrigan 9 days after the scheduled  2008 Spring concert and I begrudgingly decided that risking on-stage labor might detract from the performance of the group so I bowed out of the entire semester.

People encouraged me to at least still go to rehearsal, it would make that January to May go by a bit faster and I really did love the goosebumps that I got each week from nailing a particular section of a particularly difficult piece as a group.  However, I knew that I would not be satisfied to work so hard and not have the concert to work toward.  It would just hurt too much to sit in the audience instead of on stage, silently moving my fingers to notes that I could see in front of my face and not feel the hot stage lights on my cheeks, sweat dampening my upper lip.

Then you know the rest of the story.  Corrigan was born. Life was flipped around. There are needs, special ones and sleep…rather sleeplessness…has robbed me of the energy to do much more than tend to the needs of my family and our home.

Tonight I came across a video on another blog and it brought me to tears.  I know, I know…everyone says, “I watched that and cried” and you think, really? did you really cry or is that like saying LOL and not really laughing…or “I will pray for you” and then never thinking of them again?   No, I really cried.  Not tears of sadness…well, kind of sadness but perhaps more bittersweet happiness. That makes sense, right?

Before I share the video I want to just share one more thing.

Many years ago, when Mark and I were just young pups in love, without even rings on our fingers, there were two Christmas seasons that I was able to participate in an amazing performance of Handel’s “Messiah.”  I say this with the utmost sincerity…it was an honor to play with those musicians. We worked hard and the director brought in some of the most amazing vocal soloists that rivaled anything you would see in bigger city venues.

Handel’s “Messiah” is one of those pieces that moves me emotionally anyway but during the first performance, when the first notes of The Hallelujah Chorus rang out into the room, the entire audience moved to their feet.  In all of my years listening to the piece I never knew that people stood for the Hallelujah Chorus and was kind of startled when, that first night, the audience rose and I quickly glanced out into the audience to see what was happening.  To my surprise, people were not only standing but they were singing out in full voices, smiles on their faces, oblivious to tone, simply singing from the heart and I am not ashamed to admit that I burst into hot tears right on stage.

It was one of the most beautiful things that I had ever experienced.   The voices of the professional choir, coupled with the beautiful instruments of the orchestra melted seamlessly with the voices of those that paid to see the performance.

To my utter delight, the same thing happened at the Sunday matinée and again on Sunday evening.  It brought tears to my eyes every time and to this day, when I hear those opening notes I feel as compelled to rush to my feet as I do for our National Anthem.

This video brings it all back to me. To those days when I had nothing else to worry about than college classes, work, dates with Mark and practicing for a concert.  To the days when music could make me cry.

Just last week, the Opera Company of Philadelphia did something spectacular.  Something that I wish that I were there to witness. Though I would have been a blubbering mess had I been there.  They assembled 650 talented vocalists (identified in the video by the buttons pinned to their shirts) in the Philadelphia Macy’s department store.  At exactly 12 noon the performers, that had mingled unnoticed into the crowd of shoppers, prepared to join in something called a “random act of culture.”  When the first notes of Handel’s “Messiah” rang out they were ready and what occurred is out of this world.

Watch as performers and shoppers alike join together in the communal happiness of music.  THIS is what I felt many years ago when we performed our small-town version of this piece…the scale was much smaller but the emotion was exactly the same.

It makes me want to work towards something.  I think I might be ready for Monday nights again.

Check out the faces of those just shopping!  AWESOME! Please let me know what you think after watching.

One thought on “Random Act of Culture-Opera Company of Philadelphia

  1. Ok, I am crying too. Really crying. With tears. And the highest notes when they sing king of kings and lord of lords… just sends shivers up and down my spine. That was beautiful. Thank you.

    Like

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