WE LISTEN AND ARE FED By Thomas Putnam
This weekend has been one big multi-course banquet for me. I've had the great good fortune to immerse myself in some of the great loves of my life. I was able to spend a bit of time with a few members of my family. I spent much of the warm-ish sunny day on Saturday painting a much needed railing—so I was at home, surrounded by light and color and sunshine and peace. I relished in the opening of our production of Grand Horizons, able to interact with a talented and very nice cast and crew and two enthusiastically encouraging audiences. Yesterday I had the great good fortune of spending the afternoon listening to the glorious sounds of Peggy Dettwiler's MU choral groups. In the midst of the concert, I directed ten talented and committed kids singing a Moses Hogan spiritual. Quite frankly, I could die today and be supremely happy.
I could write a blog about all of the above, but primarily in this one I'm focusing on the great power I find in good choral music. The concert yesterday was one of those thin places the Celtic Christians speak of; the place where the division of earth and heaven, physical and spiritual, here and everywhere is so thin as to be imperceptible. It happens a lot to me with choral music that simply transports me, or simply melts everything else away.
Peggy Dettwiler invited our HG Youth Ensemble—ten singers—to sing a song with the Festival Chorus and also to sing a song on our own. I don't remember that happening before, and it was an incredibly gracious offer, one of which I heartily accepted. Our numbers are few this year—Covid seemed to take the wind out of our sails—but this group is committed and loves to sing. It was an honor and great joy to sing in this concert.
The MU Concert Choir sang a song never before performed. It was commissioned in memory of our friend Keith Cooper who died last year. The text is based on a poem by Rumi, concluding with these words:
Oh, music is the meat of all who love,
Music uplifts the soul to realms above.
The ashes glow, the latent fires increase:
We listen and are fed with joy and peace.
Good choral music is one of the great nourishers of my life. I am grateful I have the opportunity to direct the HG Choral program and offer the opportunity to kids to explore rich music. I am grateful for Keith and Hilma Cooper who were/are great supporters of the arts. I am grateful for Peggy Dettwiler for the incredible opportunities she has and is providing for thousands of young people—and me—to experience those indescribable thin places. We listen...and are fed...with joy and peace.