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.
Even as we were taking our places on stage, crossing my mind were the deaths of five friends in the twelve weeks prior to the concert : two (a mother and son) in a tragic motor accident; another a suicide; then a friend murdered on New Year’s Eve; and another after a long and lingering old age.
And with these deaths the inevitable sadness and grief….tempered by the hope that for each friend there would be a fulfilment beyond the death event, in a God-filled realm beyond our mortal imagining.
Within the context of these sad events rehearsals for the Mozart Requiem began, culminating in last night’s performance.
From the very outset Alexander’s superb handling of the words and the score empowered me to grapple inwardly with the reality of these sad partings.
At the Wednesday evening practice times I would find myself, from time to time, casting my eyes around the rows of singers, especially as Alexander nudged each section into producing the right notes and also to have an understanding of the text being sung, and the brilliance with which Mozart composed his score to communicate the awesomeness – the fear and the hope – which the words of the Christian Mass express.
What a diversity of individuals! All, in fact, unique! And surely an equal diversity of beliefs about life and death – some familiar, and others perhaps not familiar, with the Christan teachings on the hereafter. Yet, here, this amazing diversity held together by Alexander in a bond of belonging, each embraced in the music-making and its proclamation, regardless of faith or non-faith.. All mattered!
And, during rehearsals, but especially as we sang in the Bishop’s Chapel last evening, it dawned on me that with some deepdown integrity we could, in the musical togetherness, sing words to inspired music that tell of the Owner of all life whose mercy and love for the world will be realised; of the Owner who will hear our prayers for our departed loved ones; of the Owner whose light and love will be a whole-making eternal reality when we too are released from the limitations of our mortality and the limitations of both time and space.
And as I waited for Alexander to appear on stage, I became quietly aware that the whole time of rehearsal for this concert was an image of life – through the very music itself: There are ways of getting it right – there are notes to be learnt and to follow, and an individual choice to practice to produce the right notes at the right time. Each individual choir member had to exercise personal responsibility to work privately to master their particular voice part.
And all needed an awareness of a responsibility to the other singers. And to be open to correction and guidance from one totally familiar with all the parts. And how they, in togetherness, could produce a result that would give satisfaction, not only to the audience, but could also embue them with a deep sense of achievement – of a purposeful life in community with others.
If the audience last night was the critic of the performance….it seemed to me that we must have got full marks! And all credit to conductor Alexander…as well as to his wonderfull wife Margaret without whom we might never have mastered the right notes. And not to forget to all that goes into the planning and administration by committee members for such an event to be such a resounding success. Thank you!
I came away from the Bishop’s Chapel on a wave of affirmation in the indestructibility of life and love, and a joyful feeling of having released my five friends into an eternal dimension of unimaginable light and love, and with a renewed belief that all who experienced last night’s performance were journeying in the same ulitimate direction.
6th March 2016