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.