Seeing the Secret

A few years ago I put my music degree to work, and I began to sing with a few local groups. Concerts and small venues are wonderful, so very personal, bringing the audience to within your gaze as you finish the end of Brahms’ Deutsches Requiem, tears in their eyes, each remembering a different loved one now past. It’s an electric feeling to perform and to watch your audience take it in.

There’s another musician moment that I’ve had twice recently that felt odd. At the Church I sing for, the choir sits in the chancel behind the communion table, giving us a very different view of the congregation and the ministers than I’m used to. Recently, when one of our former choristers passed on, his memorial was held in the Church and we had a large choir sing the event. On the communion table sat two photos of Richard, facing outward to the pews. As we sang the last song, his longtime partner walked up the steps to the Chancel, picked up the frame of one of the photos, brushed his hand across the frame, and with a sad smile he kissed the photo, replaced it on the communion table and left.

That intimate moment, I felt like I was intruding, seeing that depth of emotion that was meant for him, His God, and his former lover, and it was so touching, so bare, and it just awkward.

This weekend, my good friends Lauren and Erich were married in this same church, and a number of us came to sing for their wedding. As we stood in our pews in the chancel and sang for them, we could see Lauren’s nervous and happy tears, Erich’s hand shake just slightly as he came in to stand to receive her, and a glance that was perfect between the two as he received her at the altar. This moment, usually obscured, was mine to share. As we sang the Gratias Agimus Tibi from Bach’s B Minor Mass, I caught her eye, something I would not have been able to do otherwise, and she winked as me as the basses came charging in to bring the piece to its peak. It was special, and it was a naked moment.

This town has its share of secrets, some long in the tooth, some short, but secrets nonetheless. I find myself holding a few, unintentionally.

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