Sunday afternoon was an amazing experience – one that at one time in my life I would not have expected to enjoy so much. With our daughter Maura and her husband Paul, Jerry and I attended a choral performance of CHORALIS which for each of its 6 yearly concerts honors a non profit whose good work they want to publicize. For this performance they were honoring the Culmore Clinic where Maura is the nurse practitioner working with diabetic and other chronic disease patients.
I grew up in a loving Irish Catholic home that was basically devoid of music. Neither my father or mother were musical and they produced three non musical children. The song that we had down pat was “Happy Birthday” and we knew our Christmas carols.
I was about 8 before I got a glimmer of understanding of the extent of my lack of musicality. We lived in a two story home, the stairs to the second floor were three going up from the living room to a larger platform stair and then then a turn to the left and the rest of the stairs led to the second floor. My father thought the platform stair was the perfect venue for his children to give a brief performance when we had company.
The summer when I was eight, money was tight causing my father to take an extra job running a New York City summer playground in a local school . I went with him most every day. I had from almost the beginning found a soul mate – a girl my age who like me enjoyed the arts and craft activities , the sports, and was excited about the show which would be the big activity of the summer. Playground participants who wanted to could audition for parts. I knew that I would compete for a singing and acting part. Though I was a shy child I enjoyed the occasional platform stair performances and thought being on an actual stage could be very exciting. My new best friend and I had lots of conversations about the show! And on try out day we were both so excited. I didn’t tell her that I thought I was a shoe in for a part – after all I had all that stair platform experience. She went first in the tryouts and when I heard her sing I was amazed – she sounded so good. She got her pick of parts – I didn’t get any offers! It got me to thinking about what was the difference in our voices.
By the time I entered the teen years I was well aware of my musical shortcomings. I was a devoted follower of the ” Hit Parade” so I knew what songs were popular but I didn’t bother to learn the words till my brother Pete suggested we learn the first lines of the popular songs. Shortly after that we were both invited to a beach party where we sat around a bonfire with friends and with the accompaniment of a guitar player spent most of the evening singing. Prior to my first line of song mastery I would have had a miserable time. Now I was a little giggly as I ” sang” the words I knew. But for the first time I felt a tinge of envy for those who could carry a tune.
As I progressed through school and on to my first job I became even more aware that some people had a musical gift that I would have liked. I made it part of my prayer life to suggest to God that if He/She wanted to perform a miracle that would blow folks away He/She could suddenly make me musical. This was a frequent request that popped up in my God conversations. God did answer my prayer, not in the way I requested, but in a way that has so totally enriched my life. He/She gave me a very musical husband and five musical children and blessed us with 19 grandchildren who are musical.
From Frank Sinatra to Bruce Springstein , from country music to classical, my musical education is ongoing. And so last Sunday when we attended the Choralis concert I was open to what I considered to be a heavy concentration of classical music. It was to be selections from various Requiem Masses, taking works from different composers .
We were early to the concert and able to get great seats right up front. The 110 person chorus and the almost 50 person orchestra seemed to surround us. I thought that since the program was to be excerpts from different requiems that I might be completely lost. I know that I didn’t follow the music in the same way as my companions but in my own non-musical way I did enjoy it. Because of the seating configuration for the chorus and orchestra, I felt totally engulfed by the music. It was like being transported to another world where I didn’t understand the language but felt warmed and welcomed by the ambience.
Would I ever want to go to another similar concert. I think the answer is “yes”. New experiences are one of the spices of life and as I age i find there is still so much I want to learn and experience.