R is for Rutter

R

It seems that I’m becoming more comfortable with embracing challenges these days. With that in mind, I’m embracing the A-to-Z Blogging challenge, by writing about the things that I most closely associate with being alive, when I show up and engage with life as fully as possible.

And with that, I give you:

RUTTER

 I’ll admit it: I am a choral geek. I love singing harmony. I love standing next to my friends and making beautiful things happen. I love music that makes my heart feel as though it will burst, either from exultation, or heartache or appreciation or just because it’s so beautiful I don’t know how the human heart can encompass that much gorgeous.

I have had the privilege of singing a lot of music and for the most part I have enjoyed all of it (I’m still not sold on “The Amphesbaena” though). But I would sing my last vocal cord for John Rutter, without a moment’s hesitation or any regret whatsoever. If I had one song left in me, I would want it to be one of his.

I can’t tell you what it is about his music that moves me to tears, frustration, and elation all at the same time. He writes some of the most gorgeous harmonies I’ve ever heard, harmonies so lush and gorgeous that you could freefall into them.

I have sung his “Requiem” for Sunday mass at the Duomo of Florence, my heart so full that I could not stop the tears from falling down my cheeks. I have performed “All Things Bright and Beautiful” more times than I can count, and each time I am amazed by how such a simple song can be so exquisitely rendered that it sounds far more difficult than it is. It kind of reminds me of Glenn Miller’s version of “Little Brown Jug.” Everyone knows the song, and it isn’t particularly difficult but a touch of genius elevates it to something remarkable.

This year, I have been introduced to several pieces of his that I had never sung before. They may have been a little more playful than some of his other works, but they demanded much of us as group and of me as an individual singer. Expression, heart, connection. I don’t think I have ever been pushed quite so hard to bring as much of who I am to the work. Maybe it’s because I am beginning to show up more and more in my own life, but when I sang those pieces this year, I yearned to connect so deeply with them that they became part of blood, bone and marrow. Even the “Gloria”, which I have sung several times over my choral “career” felt different this year.

My chorale director became a grandfather for the first time just before our most recent concert. All of a sudden “Monday’s Child” took on a special significance. To every child a song and to every heart a melody. Nursery rhymes have taken on an almost sacred quality. I have no words. All I have is the deepest gratitude for the this man’s genius and a deep abiding love for the music and the community and the heart and the soul that his music evokes deep within me.

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