Stories from the Choir
Stories from the Choir
Stories from the Choir
GOOD GOD! ..WHAT NEXT?
After our most happy concert of Rodgers and Hammerstein songs from their shows it was so welcome and good to wedge one’s self between the sheets in anticipation of a deep and long night’s sleep. But,even in the very shutting of the eyes, not forgetting to Thank God for the gift of music and the sheer joy of the whole event.
Gee God, thanks so much for the wonderful concert and all the happiness of audience and performers throughout. And also for those superb songs by Rodgers and Hammerstein. And so I’m a really happy chappie falling to sleep tonight.
INNER VOICE: Wait a minute – Those songs you sang – Why don’t you sing them in church?
What a stupid thought! Hey God. Was that you speaking?
INNER VOICE. Yes. Why not? Just think how much I would enjoy you singing about my Creation like that in church…all about the wind and the rain and the wheat and the night hawk in Oklahoma. And while you’re singing it you could be mindful of all beauty and the glory of my Creation on your doorstep here in Fish Hoek. And, I like that tune and the vibrancy of it all. Why not?
INNER VOICE: And what about There is Nothing like a Dame? Just imagine that before your sermon on Love versus Lust? It would wake them up even before you start. Why do folk forget that humour is one of my gifts to you. Yes. I made you to sometimes laugh at serious things like Love and Lust to make you take them more seriously.
God. You must be joking.
INNER VOICE: And what about You’ll Never Walk Alone? That’s what folk need to know as they navigate all the circumstances of their daily lives. That I am with them and in them no matter what. Come on. Go for it.
God. You’re waking me up. I’m trying to get to sleep. Tell me more in the morning.
INNER VOICE: I’m nearly finished: And it was really A Nice Night for Singing. So glad you enjoyed it. Wouldn’t it be great to start a service with that number sometime? Ja. And people might even start really falling in love with me. And as you might now be getting my drift and having something to dream about: Why not end the service with Climb Every Mountain….me with you…into the new week, facing whatever may come your way and theirs. Why not??
.Gee God. You must have forgotten that I no longer have a church or a parish to run.
INNER VOICE: No I haven’t. But you can put the idea into the minds of those who still do. Now. Off to sleep you go. And thanks for the singing! I also enjoyed the concert!
7 October 2018
Reflections on this concert by choir member Harry Wiggett, August 5th 2018
As the choir and soloists sang the following words in a glorious performance of Gustav Mahler’s magnificent “Resurrection” Symphony in the refurbished City Hall last night (4th August) with the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra under the inspired baton of Maestro Bernhard Geuller, I could not help but feel just how appropriate they were as so many throughout the world mourned the recent death of UCT’s Professor Bongani Mayosi:
…O Pain, thou piercer of all things!
From thee have I been wrested!
O Death! Thou masterer of all things!
Now art thou mastered!
With wings which I have won me,
In love’s fierce striving.
I shall soar upwards
To the light to which no eye has soared!
I shall die, to live!
Rise again, yea thou will rise again,
My heart, in the twinkling of an eye!
What thou hast fought for
Shall lead thee to God!
AFTER THE CONCERT – a brief reflection
Every concert performance is a unique event in the life of each performer. Alone, as a singer, one might never have made it onto any concert platform, but together with others in the same boat, as members of a choir our potential as singers can be realised. And that with huge joy and satisfaction.
However, that does not happen without training at the hands of those whose lives have been dedicated to the study and performance of music professionally. But even that study is not sufficient: there is a very real spiritual dimension too. The professional musician handles the God-given blessings of inspiration, insight, heart-understanding of the mind of composers and their compositions; and the ability to inspire others to co-operate in the performance and interpretation of the great masters’ works. Continue reading
Where there is music-making every person is affected.
Words can all too often imprison deep spiritual realities within their limitations. And it takes inspired music to release the truths locked within words. Words can also be decidedly exclusive, whereas music is inclusive, all-embracing.
And, more especially so, when our human words attempt to express Divine understandings which become formulated by mortals into doctrines and dogmas which the faithful of all religious persuasions feel obliged to subscribe to.
Last evening’s concert in the chapel at the Diocesan College (Bishops) under the conductorship of Alexander Fokkens held soloists, choir, orchestra and audience in a tangible bond of unity as the words of the Rossini Stabat Mater and the Schubert Mass in G Major were brought to life in a way that spoke to the heart with truths contained within the words of both liturgical texts. And what a privilege to have performed these two works with such a fine band of orchestral players and soloists under Alexander’s superb direction.
The joy of being a performer in such wonderful works is hugely enhanced by hearing how the concert has affected lives in the audience.
And so I share three particular responses because of the impact the music had on these persons:
At interval, after the Schubert Mass, I fell into conversation with an old friend (older than me) who owned to a longing to die, but was depressed and frightened of death, and heard how reassuring and comforting the Schubert Mass had been to him, especally the closing Agnus Dei – ‘Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, grant us peace’. And then finding himself contemplating an eternally loving Presence awaiting his arrival!
After the Rossini Stabat Mater another friend, from Namibia, who had sung with the choir at a time when her daughter was in hospital in Cape Town and had died, told how she was able through the music to relate to the deep grief of Jesus’ Mother standing at the Cross witnessing her Son’s death, and yet had that deepdown knowing of not being alone, imbued with a deep peace beyond mere words.
And then, when we were leaving the chapel, hearing how tears streamed down the cheeks of a fellow bass as the Stabat Mater came it its conclusion – the deep and profound joy of the Quando corpus movietur resonating with his spirit – ‘When my body dies grant that my soul is given the glory of Paradise. World without end. Amen.’
My own deep and abiding joy was not only in the singing and being part of the performance, but in savouring the spontaneous and heartwarming response of the audience, and the sense of joy that filled the chapel at the conclusion of the concert.
For me it was the joy that Jesus promised would be with and in us regardless of the circumstances of the world in which we live, and regardless of the triumphs and tragedies – no matter how minor or major they may be – that go to make up our ordinary daily lives. I suppose its the joy that at the inevitable end an all-embracing Love awaits us, and that there are many mansions – room for all!
In conclusion: all praise to Alexander whose musicianship continues to mature and seems boundless with an intense humility allowing the music a control and freedom that makes each succesive concert the more meaningful and spiritually rewarding. Not forgetting wife Margaret whose accompanying patience on the piano at rehearsals is limitless as she, together with Alexander, enables the choir to master the inticacies and dynamics of the works being prepared for performance.
24 October 2016
What this performance meant to me:
It is some twelve hours later that I now write, and I am still feeling overwhelmed with joy at the spontaneous standing ovation our performance of the Mozart Requiem, under the masterful baton of Alexander Fokkens, received in the Bishop’s Chapel last night. It seemed to me that all involved in the making of this marvellous music – soloists, orchestra, choir – were totally immersed in the spiritual intensity of this hope-full acclamation of the indestructibility of love and life, and that the all-embracing human event of death leads on naturally to something more.
In this afterglow of the performance it seems good to reflect on the overall experience of being part of such a dynamic body of singers and musicians bringing to life this brilliant Mozart score, aware of the deep understanding and spiritual perception of conductor Alexander in crafting and shaping this work with the musical resources at his disposal. It was truly a performance that overwhelmed one and all with a tangible joy and gladness. Continue reading