Saturday, December 08, 2007

Christmas Bliss

I had an experience in Christmas bliss last night that I shall not forget. A bit of background--I am a singer as well as a knitter. I have been in choirs, large and small, for most of my life, singing the classical repertoire for the most part. Excellent choral music is a large part of my joy in life. No one in the family was more delighted than I when my nephew Christopher fell in love with choral music as a freshman in High School. He was in a magnet high school and had an exceptional professor who carefully tutored Chris' talent. He was selected to the All-East State honors choirs every year, and All-State his senior year (maybe jr. too...I don't remember). His gift for music was rewarded with college scholarships and selection for a special a capella men's group called the Seven Bucks his sophomore year. Now a junior at East TN State University (ETSU), he is singing with the ETSU Chorale, a modest-sized group of about 80 singers. Last night was my 1st opportunity to hear him perform with the choir at their Annual Christmas Concert.

The concert was held at the Munsey Memorial Methodist Church in Johnson City, a beautiful old cathedral-style church in the heart of the historic downtown district. In the first picture I tried capture the exquisite architecture of the chancel area. Above the altar was a soaring brass fretwork engraved with images of Christ and the apostles. It was difficult to see the detail from where I sat, but I was impressed nevertheless. The choir did not use the chancel area, rather they stood on risers in front of the pulpits and along the outer aisles. For the opening number, an early 17th century work by Allegri, a quartet stood in the rear balcony, the women were on the risers and the men in the aisles so the audience was literally surrounded by a glorious polyphonal sound. It was breathtakingly beautiful to listen too. I could not believe my ears I was so stunned by the exceptional quality of the Chorale. I consider myself to be fairly knowledgeable about choral music and *very* picky about things like intonation and timbre and the like. Frankly, I never even considered the possibility of music of this quality coming from a small university in the hills of Appalachia. I was so wrong, it was that good!!!

Perhaps the most joyous aspect of the experience for me was simply watching Chris sing (the redhead in the center on the top row). It wasn't hard to see that he was loving every minute of it. He was a bit nervous about his part in a solo quartet in a Ralph Vaughn Williams number, but he sang well. Daddy made the journey with me and he simply glowed with joy over the whole thing. It truly is a miracle that he even had strength to come and sit in a crowd for that long so late at night.

After the concert we were pleasantly surprised to learn that Alison(the ex) brought Matthew(nephew #3) and Connor(#4) up from North Carolina for the concert. The boys were *so* excited to see their Grandaddy! It was a Fuji moment and I was lucky to snap a couple of pictures--good pictures! (From left to right: Chris, Connor, Grandaddy, & Matthew) Matthew looked, well, (can an aunt say this???) HOT! He was decked out in a beautiful suit and tie--boy he cleans up good! Connor was in great spirits too, so it was a great family moment for us all. It was a concert event that will be the highlight of my Christmas this year. Ah, bliss!

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