Some people cry at weddings…

I cry at live performances.

Does anyone else do that?

I think I even do it for some of the same reasons that people cry at weddings.  I look at the people on the stage, and I see vulnerability, honesty, courage.  It doesn’t even matter how polished or experienced the performers are.  What matters, I think, is the commitment, the willingness to be there, and to give something, to share something.  Of course, there’s also the power of the work of art being performed — the song, the symphony, the play, the dance.  When the message of the art meets the medium of the performers, though — oh, that is magic.  Pure alchemy.

Last Friday, for example, I took my daughter to a choral concert at Shepherd University.  We heard three vocal chamber ensembles — a men’s chorus, a women’s chorus, and a mixed group — and then for the finale, the three groups combined to present their own rendition of this (sans the initial thunderstorm).  I loved that finale, but what really grabbed me by the heart, mind, and nerves was a piece entitled “Job, Job,” by Stephen Hatfield, performed by the Shepherd University Women’s Camerata. A rich and bluesy spiritual, with two solo voices soaring above a latticework of close choral harmonies, it grabbed my attention at once. I followed the music, measure after measure, believing I knew where it was going. “Hang down your head,” it said — and then, all at once, a growl of defiance: “Head won’t hang down…want to face my Maker…”

I was electrified, suspended in time and tears. Head won’t hang down. Want to face my Maker.

So, this has been a very rambling way of telling you that I often cry at live performances, and that I cried at a performance last Friday night. I think, though, that at their best, all performances, from the most meticulous to the most clumsy, have at least a hint of that quality. Head won’t hang down. Want to face my Maker.

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3 responses to “Some people cry at weddings…

  1. Sometimes I cry at live performances — more often what makes me choke up is something with a sense of loss or courage in it, of bearing up under something bigger than one heart could hope to hold. A good example would be the song “Now We Are Free” from the Gladiator soundtrack. I get a harsh feeling in my throat every time I hear it… it’s beautiful and free but sad, you know?

  2. I think I do know what you mean. There’s such an intensity there, in the juxtaposition of expansive, universal power and intimate, human courage. That’s one of the things I love about music — its capacity to take different elements and bring them together in such rich, meaningful ways.

  3. Followed your link from Havi’s blog – ohmyword, I DO (cry at live performances) – but could not have explained it as well as you did!

    p.s. the post title “There’s a nap for that” -HA! Great!

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