Wednesday, September 2, 2009

"How Can I Keep From Singing?"

I just started singing with a mixed chorus called Resounding Harmony, directed by Dr. Tim Seelig, who used to direct the Turtle Creek Chorale and the The Women's Chorus of Dallas. I sang with the Women's Chorus for almost ten years, so being able to sing again, particularly with a mixed group is very exciting.

Singing is a spiritual experience for me. It has always been one of the few activities in which I totally lose myself. Nothing else exists except the music, the conductor, and me. It is one of the joys that makes life worth living.

I have had the great fortune to sing some incredible pieces under the direction of Tim, but the one that I will always remember as the peak spiritual experience of my life was when we were recording John Rutter's "Requiem", for a CD. We were in the Myerson, which is itself a spiritual experience, and were performing the last movement, "Lux Aeterna", or "Light Forever".

Now, a Requiem, for those of you who don't know, is a body of music honoring the dead. There are many great "Requiems", Mozart's being my second favorite. But the important thing is that a Requiem is meant to console the living and lift the dead to a higher plane, or heaven, according to your beliefs.

My mother died when I was 29 and pregnant with my first child. We were not close, and I had alot of "unfinished business", as therapists would call it, with her.

It was during the recording of that last beautiful movement, Lux Aeterna, that I finally put my mother to rest. I'm not sure what happened or why, but the combination of that beautiful space and that beautiful music raised me to a level I had not before experienced, and I knew that she had been released from whatever pain she was still carrying. It was indescribable--I wanted to move into the Myerson--I wanted to never leave....

We recorded for three days, and it felt like such an incredibly warm and safe cocoon, I literally grieved when we had to leave.

Why do I bring this up and what does it have to do with PH? I bring it up, because I think it is a crime that arts programs are the first to get cut when budgets get tight....arts programs that give volatile and hurting teens venues through which to express their deepest feelings--whether it is visual arts, dance, music, or theatre.

When PH has been fortunate to offer any kind of arts to our kids, the transformation is palpable. They LOVE it. And yet, we can only do it sporadically due to lack of funding.

It makes me very sad to know that most of our teens will never have the opportunity to feel the transformation in their lives that music has caused in my life. They will not soar with the great and beautiful pieces that comfort, rouse, inspire, and move people so deeply.

The arts make life worth living.....and I want our teens to live and to have experiences that make them know that their lives are worth living...singing is just one.

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