Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Music Hath Such Power

Well, despite the title, the real quote is "Music has charms to soothe the savage beast..." (from William Congreve's drama The Mourning Bride).
I specifically altered that quote because it is the POWER of music on which I want to focus. 

It is hard to express how much music is infused through almost all the facets of my life. Some of my earliest memories are of my father singing to me--nonsense songs that even to this day I can recall.

  • "Mairzy doats and dozy doats"  
  • "Kentucky Babe" 
  • "I'm A Lonely Little Petunia in an Onion Patch"

As I was growing up, my father gave me free access to play his 45 rpms. I could play Beethoven string quartets, Mozart symphonies, Verdi operas. To this day, I love classical music.

I sang in school chorus, in college choir, in church and community music groups. 

Among the most joyous associations I have with music are the various choral pieces I have sung. Understand, I am no soloist--I am a solid alto. It is the CHORAL experience that I enjoy. I sang Bach's choral music, Beethoven's "Choral Fantasy," Handel's "Messiah," Haydn masses and requiems.  Maybe you notice that (at least) one great composer name is missing: Mozart.

For all the choral pieces I had participated in singing, I had never sung Mozart's tour de force choral piece--his Requiem.

Until--until one year after the horrific attacks of September 11, 2001.  Someone got the idea to have Mozart's Requiem sung all over the world. Singing the requiem would begin at  9 a.m. and be sung all over the world on September 11, 2002.

I joined with collective choral groups that united in the area where I live to participate in singing the Requiem. We sang  inside the Rotunda in our state capitol building.

Here is the genius of that idea--every time zone around the world assembled at least ONE choir and began singing the Requiem at 9 a.m. in THAT time zone. Thus the rolling Requiem. All around the world, people singing and instrumentalists accompanying in that glorious Requiem mass.

It was perhaps the most perfect way to memorialize all those who died on September 11, 2001.  And to remind us of our connectedness.  

That's why I say--music hath such power.  Power to fill and restore our souls.  Music to remind us of our common humanness. 

If you have the time, you can listen to the entire Requiem Mass here.  

It lasts just under an hour.  Think of it--24 time zones* around the world sharing in this powerful piece--each lasting an hour for a whole day.  If people in the world can come together for one day to all sing the same choral piece, what else might we be able to do?

*There are actually more than 24 time zones (it's complicated--you can look it up).


Unknown said...

I enjoyed your post, although I am not a fan of classical music - too many years of being forced to the symphony, thanks to season tickets that were renewed for what seemed like a gazillion years!

Anonymous said...

I felt the joy and passion you have for the classics as I read this, and smiled. Music IS so very powerful. I can't believe it's Thursday, and I've fully neglected to post anything... off I go! Jayne (had to post anon, as I realized I was logged into my husband's google acct!)

Anvilcloud said...

I never knew about the Requiem endeavour, but what a great idea. You have quite a background in classical music.

Jan Engle Lewis said...

Love this, Donna. Feeling the joy with you...from one "solid alto" to another.

Ginnie said...

Yes, that was a very touching global tribute. My late husband loved classical music although neither he nor I played an instrument. As AC said you certainly have a good classical music background.

Ruth said...

I do love most classical music. I never heard of the 9/11 rolling Requiem. It would have been very moving and something I would have liked to hear.

NCmountainwoman said...

I cannot imagine a world without music. As a child, I listed to my radio frequently and went to sleep listening to classical music. I spend most of my allowance on 45s; then LPs. After we married, we constantly upgraded our stereo system. Now I have three iPods all with appropriate playlists. We have the Bose playing a classical playlist softly in the background when we have a dinner party.

My husband's taste in music is almost exclusively to classical. He's the only person I know who does his exercise bike and rowing machine to the sounds of classical music.

Ginger said...

I'd not heard of the rolling Requiem before. I agree with you; a beautiful memorial to those who lost their lives so senselessly. We should do it yearly, to re-grieve the loss of the world's assumptions of safety.