This past Tuesday evening (Election Day) I was struck with the eloquence of the words spoken by Senators McCain and Obama. Senator McCain exhibited grace and dignity in his concession remarks and in his acceptance speech Senator Obama expressed a sense of confidence and hope for the future. I was impressed by the way each of these gentlemen used words that seemed to heal and unify. Their words, combined with the historic importance of the moment, brought tears to my eyes.
Words are indeed powerful, and in choral music we are given the opportunity to join the power and beauty of text with the equal power and beauty of music. Yet, I wonder how often we take this remarkable opportunity for granted? Consider some of the words we have sung in the past couple of years. In the Holocaust Cantata we recalled the atrocities enacted upon humanity seventy years ago and were led to consider that genocide still exists today. In Mass of the Children and Prayer of the Children we were given the opportunity to consider both our blessings and responsibilities as we care for the defenseless among us. In every Requiem we sing (Duruflé this past August and Mozart this coming March) I have encouraged you to think about those individuals from your past who have touched your lives in some profound way, and who continue to do so long after their earthly existence has ended.
Just as the words shared by Senators McCain and Obama on Tuesday elevated and enriched us all, we are given the chance on a weekly basis to enrich and elevate both ourselves and others through the blending of our voices in words and music. It has been suggested that the Fine Arts can sometimes offer us a “glimpse of the Divine,” and I have found that for me choral music is the most natural of all the arts to accomplish this.