We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.
Every Wednesday and Friday one of our Life List Club members posts a blog on the LLC Website. Today, Gary Gauthier, will post on that site. After you read my post, be sure to come back up here and click on the LLC Website so you can read his also.
The other night my wife and I drove to Baylor University—some 90 miles away—to listen to my grandson’s choir perform John Rutter’s Requiem. This is not typical of my musical interests. I keep the Sirius Radio in my car tuned to Willie’s Roadhouse. Not that I’m a Willie Nelson fan, but it’s THE place to get Country classics from the fifties and sixties and seventies.
That night was an exception. The reason for going was that our grandson was part of the choir, and we hadn’t heard him sing with them before. Since he’s a junior now, I guess it was about time.
My daughter and her youngest son, a freshman in high school, drove up from their home near San Antonio and met us for the concert. It’s always good to see kids and grandkids, so if the concert itself happened to be enjoyable, that would just be a plus. I wasn’t really looking forward to the music as much as the visit.
After opening with another piece to the accompaniment of a campus orchestra, the choir began to sing the requiem. I was amazed by the feelings that swept over me as the performance got under way. I was taken back nearly sixty years to my days in the Denton Boy Choir, the predecessor of the Texas Boys Choir.
Entering the choir at age 11, I sang as an alto my first year. My second year, I was a mezzo soprano, and then a contralto my third and last year. Since most of our repertoire carried over years after year, I ended up knowing all but the soprano parts of many different pieces we sang.
One of our regulars was Gabriel Faure’s Requiem. Although Rutter’s sounded totally different from Faure’s—among other things, Rutter mixed English lyrics with the Latin—the Latin words the choir sang began to ring vague bells in my memory. There are those who would say my memory in general is pretty vague these days, but that’s another story for another day.
As I heard the words Requiem aeternam, dona eis domine memories came flooding back from those days so long ago. For three years in the mid-fifties, we would perform that piece at an outdoor sunrise service in a cemetery in Dallas. That meant my mother and I would leave our house in west Fort Worth at 3am or some such time to drive over there.
I don’t know if Easter fell in March or April those three years, but I do recall that it was unseasonably cold each time. We would arrive and stand out in the cold morning air until time to perform. Brrrr.
Kyrie elaison, Christe elaison. I kept trying to recall the music for one of the parts I’d sung so long ago. We also sang the Requiem at some sort of memorial service on Memorial Day at least once while I was in the choir. Maybe more. I barely heard the singing of this choir as I searched through back closets in my mind for long-forgotten words and music.
For some years now I’ve attended performances of George Frideric Handel’s Messiah around Christmas-time for the same reason. I can sing along with a lot of that piece as I think back to those days of youth performing it, but this was different. Maybe it’s because The Messiah is so familiar and I’ve heard it so often through the years, but as much as I love it, it doesn’t have the effect this performance did.
Do you come across things nowadays that unexpectedly evoke a vivid memory from your childhood or teen years? Share a comment about it with us.
David N. Walker is a Christian father and grandfather, a grounded pilot and a near-scratch golfer who had to give up the game because of shoulder problems. A graduate of Duke University, he spent 42 years as a health insurance agent. Most of that career was spent in Texas, but for a few years he traveled many other states. He started writing about 20 years ago, and has six unpublished novels to use as primers on how NOT to write fiction. He is currently putting the finishing touches on his non-fiction Web Wisdom: Godly Thoughts and Inspiration from the Inbox and starting his new fiction work—a series of novellas set during the period from 1860 to 1880.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet me at @davidnwalkertx
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Would you believe that later in the day, before I read your reply, I remembered that it was Dohnyahi’s Stabat Mater, and that it was performed with the Wichita Falls Symphony. I didn’t recall the other details, though.
I sent you an ESP message, Sis.
I think this is my most favorite post I’ve ever read here! It links together all the things I love about you: the way you tell stories, your love for family, your commitment to your faith, and an ounce of rebelliousness that gets overturned when something tugs at your heartstrings. Just lovely. I don’t even want to talk about me. I just want to enjoy your experience.
Your sweet comment is one of the reason I love you, Renee. You’re always kind, sweet and upbeat.
Oh my …… your memories surely bring back some for me too. Though I didn’t sing with the boys’ choir (obvious for at least two reasons), I have many memories. I attended those very early, very cold Easter sunrise services with you and Mom too … at least once or twice. And I recall the Kyrie Elaison …. as well as other music. I remember the world premiere of … well, I forgot the composer and title, but I recall that the choir got to perform a world premiere. Fairly often current experiences do kick me back a number of years. I don’t think I ever hear Moonlight Sonata without hearing Pista playing it gloriously on our piano, and later Willie playing it as best he could (not quite as well as Pista, lol). I hope you paid at least a bit of attention to Austen’s concert too! All in all, this sounds like a real pleasure. I know you love country music, but I am so glad that this brought back an appreciation for some old masterpieces. I know that my love of classical stems from many childhood experiences …. and appreciate that Dad introduced me to it.
I couldn’t remember for sure if you went with us to the Easter services, Barb, but I’m not surprised. The world premier was Ernst Von Dohnanyi’s Stabat Mater. We sang with the Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra, because the director, Erno Daniel, was a cousin of Dohnanyi’s. I sorta think Pista may have been related to them also, but I’m not sure.
You bet there are times when something pings a vivid memory of some snippet in time in my youth. The moment, the feelings, the setting all pop into a vivid mental image.
It’s a lovely way to time-travel.
Those paranormal writers have nothing on us oldies-but-goodies, David.
You’re right, Gloria. Young people may not realize it, but us old folks have a little kid living inside us somewhere, scratching his head and wondering how we got here.