Sunday, April 12, 2009

Lobgesang and Good Friday Harp

I have been very busy musically lately which is part of why I have had no entries here in the recent weeks.

Our Church Choir (St. Joseph's Church) presented a Lenten Praise concert on March 22. We sang three works: Missa brevis Sancti Joannis de Deo by Haydn (a Mass sung in Latin), Stabat Mater by Casciolini (also in Latin, the words depict the grieving Blessed Mother Mary at the foot of the cross), and Lobgesang by Mendelssohn (words of Scripture set to music and sung in German). The last one is my personal favorite. It is incredibly difficult, especially singing in a different language on top of it, but it is so moving. Samples sung by a professional choir can be heard here.

The coolest part is based on Romans 13, which is basically the battle between light and darkness set to music, so it gets all dramatic and tense, but then resolves beatifully and the day triumphs and is approaching (listen to a sample here):

Die Nacht is vergangen
der tag aber herbeigekommen.
So la├čt uns ablegen die Werke der Finsternis,
und anlegen die Waffen des Lichts;
und ergreifen die Waffen des Lichts

Translation:
The night is departing
the day is approaching.
So let us cast off the works of darkness,
and put on the armor of light;
and seize the armor of light.

I played harp for Good Friday, a duet with a cellist and then another piece in ensemble with organ, cello, and choir. I am working on not being such a basket case before I play in public. This is a long process and is getting better. This time though there were some changes, some breakthroughs. I made inevitable mistakes, but I was able to cover them, which I can usually do anyway. But this time I was not kicking myself to the curb over the mistakes. I felt I had put in a lot of work, the result was fine to the listeners, and of course, God forgives my musical mistakes! I was able to shrug off the mistakes.

Then, God blessed me with a musical breakthrough. There is a piece I have been working on, on and off for several years. It's very, very difficult for me. I was working on it here and there during my Good Friday practicing. Today, I was able to play the first part with ease. This has never happened on this piece before. This sometimes happens in music - a person is on a "plateau" for a long time and then it all finally comes together. What helped a lot was playing block chords. Instead of playing the piece as written, with its downward cascading arpeggios (a classic sound on the harp, sounds almost like water flowing), I practiced a recommended technique for harpists, which is playing the arpeggios all at once, as if it were a solid chord. It made all the difference, I am so pleased, but I believe God had a hand in this - giving me these two gifts: Being able to be calm about mistakes and being able to finally, finally get this piece (well the beginning part at least) to an almost-ready-to-perform level. Joy!

1 comment:

Clare Marie-Therese Duroc said...

It sounds so beautiful... the German text is just gorgeous.

Happy Easter!!