I’ll admit it, my first reaction to John Starr Alexander’s “Requiem” was a resounding “meh” (don’t get mad at me, just keep reading). It just didn’t do much for me and the (seriously) rough run-through didn’t tug at me at all. Was I determined to give it my best? Sure, my dedication to our merry group of singers demands no less. (Hey, I sang “Sleigh Ride” didn’t I? And we all know how I feel about THAT…)
Then we broke up into sectional rehearsals the following week and began to explore (massive props to Becca for her leadership and hard work) and “meh” morphed gently into “hmmm…that part is interesting”. I still wasn’t all over it but the piece had gotten my attention. There was a level of complexity to it that caught my ear as well as some musical movements that were cool. That first thought of, “There’s a lot going on here” started to form.
Then we got down to the grinding work of picking apart some HARD sections of the piece (John doth love his triplets) and it started to come together and THEN we spent some time on the main theme, the thread that ties it all together, and the different ways it presents itself. And we got to hear Tommy and the old Steinway do their magic thing. And we all started getting some of the hard parts right so that they sounded the way they were supposed to. And, is so often the case, for just a moment in time, we used the “Requiem” to make music; just a phrase or two but enough to give us all a peek through the window.
“Okay”, my musical self thought, “I think I’m starting to get my little (tenor) brain wrapped arount this thing a bit more.” As all great pieces of music do, the work that we were doing sparked my imagination and I could hear in my head where this was going, what the orchestra might sound like, how the phrasing and dynamics might move, the flow, a piece of the intention of the composer. John had gotten his hooks in me and it only took three rehearsals to go from “meh” to “heeeeyyy…I LIKE this.”
I suspect that…no, that’s not right…I have no doubt that, just like it does for the rest of the gang, it’ll turn into a love affair. The good stuff always does.
(Postscript…I shoulda known better from the beginning after singing the composer’s “The Softness Of My Mother’s Hands”. Duh.)