Monday, April 28, 2014

The sacred ecstasy of music ... and a cold beer

I have often found myself enraptured by the ecstatic character of the performer. Any of us who have played in an orchestra or sung in a choir knows of what I speak. There is the moment before one begins, the slight pause at the moment the conductor lifts his hands, when there is no longer a moment to clear one's throat or scratch the itch. Then it begins. One is launched into this strange divine sea of music in a river of time that will carry one through till the final moment of closure.

And amidst that strange divine sea of music, one projects himself outside of himself. He is besides himself. Ecstatic -- literally: "standing outside" -- in that medium of music. Vocal chords give voice to song, woodwind reeds reverberate with strings of violin, viola, base and cello, timpani, brassy trumpets and haunting French horns sound -- all creating something unimaginably larger and more wonderful than anything each could produce on its own.

But even as the soloists step forward and launch into their virtuoso performances, faces sometimes contorting, and eyes not quite really looking at anything, one realizes, when it is being done well, that there is something happening here that is so beautifully intimate that it is nearly indecent to look upon it. It is a ecstasy of the human spirit, expressed bodily, which reaches to touch something sublime, that form of beauty the ancients sometimes numbered among the "transcendentals."

Time. Eternity. Immutable essence. Ecstatic movement. Body. Soul. Spirit. All converge in this brief suspended moment of time we call "the performance." Our hearts are stirred.

Then we go home, open the fridge, pop open cold one, and sit down to watch the evening news.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was an old Rock and Roll singer who was very good at what I did. There is Iittle to compare with being so "on" in a love song, usually of the broken hearted variety, that those who were dancing slowly moments before, often more in a mobile embrace than a dance, simply break their embrace and stop, just to listen to a performance so tender and emotionally in tune that they simply watch the singer, THEIR eyes sometimes filled with tears and holding the hands of their partner, until they erupt in elation to thank the drained but ecstatic performer who has just relived the meaning of the song in their presence.

I could never forget those moments.

Only once, at Mass, with a priest who often riled me with his improvisation, have I ever felt even more complete, incredible, joy as when this man, offered the most touching, loving Consecration, which I have ever been blessed to experience. It was no performance. I have never seen or lived through something so awesome.(I am not from the generation that overused that word).

Thanks for the reminder!