Before I moved to India, my good friend Todd asked me what I hoped to learn when I got there. At the time I didn’t know what it was I was hoping to learn. I thought it might be learning to do a handstand, learn proper Pilates routines, learning how to remain calm on airplanes, learning to appreciate a new culture and so on. What I didn’t know then was that the most important lesson I was meant to learn, was that of love.
Carl Orff, a German composer, wrote a scenic cantata called “Carmina Burana.” It’s traditionally performed with a full chorus (including a children’s chorus) and a full orchestra. The piece is written in Latin with a few German words scattered in just to make it interesting. In addition to it’s varied tempos, layers of sound, and tantalizing content (“In the wavering balance of my feelings set against each other lascivious love and modesty…”) what struck me most about last night’s performance was how familiar it was.
I was listening to hundreds of musicians I’d never met in a concert hall I’d never been in before and all I could see was my mom in the front row of the soprano section flanked by Anita McSwain and Carol Brickley. All I could feel was the velvet seat of center row Y in Monfort Concert Hall as I sat next to my proud dad. I glimpsed the alto section and saw Heather Garwood and Marilyn Gerbrandt strongly leading their section while Jeff Walthol sang his heart out with the tenors and Glen Brickley and the bases sustained a deep foundation of sound. I saw Mary Keisling playing her cello and Bill Pfund beautifully working his trumpet. I saw Howard Skinner gracefully blend baritone Gregory Gerbrandt and soprano Maggie Hays’s voices with that of the Greeley Children’s Chorale, Greeley Philharmonic, and Greeley Chorale’s magnificent sounds.
What Orff did for me last night was bring me home. He brought me the sounds and feelings of love I whole-hardheartedly crave. I had no idea how much I would miss hearing my mom sing “Oh Fortuna”, or watching Carl wave his baton, or listening to Greg sing “Circa mea pectora,” or observing Heather voice “Uf dem anger” or attending countless Greeley Chorale concerts. Growing up I’d been oblivious of the impact those experiences would have on me as an adult. Now, living half a world away, I would give anything to hear them sing again, to watch their faces feel the music, to have appetizers with them at Old Chicago after the show, and to share with them how truely grateful I am to them for bringing me the music.
After last night’s SOI concert, the handful of high school students I was chaperoning chattered on and on about how much they loved the piece having never been to an orchestra concert before. Keeping quiet, for fear tears would spring from my eyes, I couldn’t help but be thankful for the love of music my community awarded me at such a young age. Thank you Greeley. I love you and am forever grateful.