Thursday and Friday found me on the beautiful Olympic peninsula at a beloved high school: Port Angeles, WA.
It certainly was a great time, and fulfilling. I had the chance to work with all choral groups at the high school, who are directed by the wholehearted and energetic Jolene Gailey. They were doing a piece or two of mine (including The Stars Stand Up in the Air and A Red, Red Rose), but it may have been even more fun to delve into other literature they were doing. I enjoy getting out of my music and conducting other stuff quite a bit. That being said, I conducted Stars Stand Up with their Symphonic Choir for a festival on Friday and had an incredibly moving time. I have to single out something from this: as a conductor sometimes there are special ‘little moments’ in pieces when you really, really connect with someone’s eyes. I had one of those rare moments with a young lady during this piece, who in a single instant I knew that her whole heart and her whole voice was being given. I was surprised, and somehow caught off-guard by her absolute gift. To be surprised by joy! How humbling and special of a gift that is.
*Assuredly all the choristers were singing with all their hearts (I hope, ha!), but there was just a rare connection, which felt great, and I will take it with me.
These young adults had great hearts, and a couple of them fed my spirit in special ways (even though they don’t know they did!) I did my best to be present, listen, love them, and give them what gifts I can. Sometimes it is hard to connect as a guest right away. I have to admit I felt a little contrived at first, but I stayed open and vulnerable. Things began to move organically, and by the end of the second day, it was a special time. It eventually became a time where the music became a gateway to something greater, rather than the music being an end unto itself. The “greater” I mention of course is love.
With each place I visit, sharing my music and message, I continue to be struck by the importance of human relationship, how an everyday choral experience can be a ballast to the constant barrage of the virtual in our lives. The real vulnerability one can experience there in spiritual concert with a community is an absolute necessity! To destroy the walls, to shatter the ramparts, and to smash the stony battlements we now build almost subconsciously in this hyperreality. (a la Baudrillard and Eco)
Thank you, my dear friends in Port Angeles, for letting me hang, share, and breathe with you. Break forth!