Last night my daughter, Melanie took me to Los Angeles’ Disney Hall’s annual Handel’s Messiah Sing-a-Long, as a pre Christmas gift. I have so much to say!
I grew up in household where music played an integral part of every day. My mother’s piano playing was our rising bell. During non holiday times she would alternate between hymns and Chopin. During Christmas were we roused pre dawn by every Christmas carol you can imagine and usually my Dad’s voice could be heard singing along in the background, slightly off key, while he brushed his teeth and got dressed for work. As the English muffins and marmalade began to take center stage the ‘victrola player’ was turned on and we would swallow our toasty morsels with either Benjamin Britton’s 'Ceremony of Carols' or Handel's 'The Messiah' as background, but in actual fact we were all humming and singing along.
During my prep school days, by some miracle, I sang in the highly respected girls’ chorus. I say ‘miracle’ not because my voice was at fault but because I sang the way that I played tennis: wildly, with no restraint and no plan. For graduation the chorus presented our long rehearsed ‘The Messiah’ with our brother school, Mount Herman. I never really did know if I was an alto or soprano but it wouldn’t have mattered if I was a bass! My best friend, Samm, who sang next to me had to plant herself firmly and periodically lean over and say “ This is not a free-for-all, Plum, you must sing your part!” I could not. I knew this music, not the words necessarily, but the music,
and I sang to my heart’s content whatever part was happening.
It has been years, decades! since I have officially sung “The Messiah”, and now my parents are gone, the victrola player is no more, my friend Samm is gone, and here I am, being invited by my daughter to this dream of a gift in the most acoustically acclaimed music hall on earth, to sing ‘The Messiah’. Pure enthusiasm filled my soul at the thought. This music, this daughter, this moment, the depth that it touched, the memories that it evoked, the passages that it punctuated, my throat constricted with emotion and my eyes blurred with tears before we even arrived in our seats.
And then ‘Comfort Ye My People’. Comfort. Comfort. And the tears poured forth.
Melanie and I together sang our hearts out, were moved to tears, laughed until we couldn’t catch our breaths and sang some more. This evening ushered in Christmas for both of us. The greatest gift that I could ever imagine was this evening.
My advent is alive and my heart sings thanks to God, the story, Handel, the conductor, and Melanie. This year I could not find my expansive, joyous, Christmas self and connection to the true spirit that birthed it all, prior to this evening and now I have.