Right, it's time for my Faure entry. I've been thinking about this for a while and I'm not quite sure how it works. There are other pieces that I have sung which have touched/moved me in many different ways, including the Tippett Spirituals from A Child of Our Time which we sang after visiting Auschwitz, and the Verdi Requiem which is full of so many wonderful climactic moments where so many pieces only have one. However, there's something about the beautiful, simple Faure Requiem which does something no other piece I have ever heard can do. These pieces are so very different that it's impossible to say which is the best (although I have to say that the great orchestral, solo and chorus writing of the Verdi still elevates it to the status of possibly the greatest piece I've ever sung) but there is something about the way Faure puts notes together and then puts these notes with the words that means moments in this piece truly do touch the soul and show you heaven. Other works can make you cry, but no others can convince you so firmly that you are seeing exactly what heaven is like - the Verdi for example is a great manifestation of the human fear of death, but I don't think it shows you the ultimate truth about God, although it illustrates much about the inner workings of the human soul. After singing Faure at Symphony Hall with so many beautiful pure voices providing the choral parts and the CBSO as the orchestra, I was firmly convinced that when I die, the choir of angels that will be leading my steps to heaven will be singing the In Paradisum, and that whenever a soul enters heaven the whole firmament shouts for joy using the "Hosanna in excelsis" from movement 3, the Sanctus. I could see it so clearly while listening to this music (the brilliant thing about the alto part is that you get to mostly listen to these bits!) that I was moved to tears, and I really felt that this music had touched my soul in a way that no other music ever had. At last Thursday's rehearsal I had the thought that although dying is the one thing that totally terrifies me (I can't bear the thought that one day I just won't be in the world), if heaven is like the Faure, I will be joyful when I get there and less scared of thinking about it now. I shall be thinking of my Grandpa when we perform this in the Butterworth concert, and I may well have to ask Lu to bring tissues! [Note to all those of you who I will still know and love in 60 years - I want this piece in its entirety at my funeral please!]
These thoughts lead me on to a general musing about music in general. There is something about this art form above all others that can really touch everyone and show them things that nothing else can. Theatre and art can be powerful forces, but I believe that music goes beyond these, into the heart of something that lies within each one of us that can only be touched by this strange combination of vibrations at different pitches that is so much more than the sum of its parts. In Soul Music, Terry Pratchett puts the theory that creation started with someone counting in - "One, two, one two three four..." and that the universe moves to a great rhythm, the end of which causes the end of time. I think there must be some truth in this. Rhythm runs through each one of us in the beating of our hearts, and even those people who claim not to be able to sing (I think everyone is able to sing, but that's another thing) can appreciate music and feel uplifted by it. Whether it's pogo-ing in a club, chanting on the terraces, bouncing round to girly rock while you do your makeup or singing one of the most sublime works ever written, music can take each one of us to a place that we cannot reach in any other way. I feel so privileged to be able to sing and play, and help to create this amazing life force.
Faure Requiem, Mahler 1 and Airport Scenes from Flight - Tuesday 7th March - 8pm - be there.