As I turned the steering wheel to ease onto the interstate, my head was filled with sound, and it seemed my car was floating rather than rolling, as I pressed the accelerator and picked up speed. We had just finished our rehearsal ending with Arnesen's “Flight Song,” and my mind refused to stop replaying the song's excruciatingly luscious notes as I headed toward Pinellas County.
The beauty of the music left me feeling suspended somewhere above the ground, with that sensation of overwhelming freedom I have on those rare, but unequivocally satisfying occasions when I dream of flying. What is it about this music that would not let me go and continued to invade my consciousness? Did other singers come away from the rehearsal feeling the same thing? And, if it does this to the singers in rehearsals, imagine what effect it will have on an audience.
The soprano line is particularly delicate: its melody so sweet as to elicit tears. Especially as a soprano, I think of those soaring high notes as the closest we lowly bipeds will ever come to avian flight. This piece abundantly reinforces that notion. Arnesen uses suspensions, dissonance, and stunning tone progressions in the lower voices to support the lofting sopranos. The resulting wall of sound lives up to the song's name, placing listeners' and singers' spirits alike squarely on the runway to go airborne. And “Flight Song” is not the only piece in the upcoming program to do that.
Dr. Bass made a comment in a subsequent rehearsal about having a “visceral reaction” to this music. Truly, it's hard not to. But it also requires a keen balance of concentrated precision, which he so skillfully draws from us, and, when appropriate, the ability to let our voices off the chain just enough to let the music be beautiful. At the moment when these things come together, something magical happens. You may feel a breath of air from the beat of wings. They are your own.
I felt a little silly that my driving style seemed to mimic the music in my head, but I could not help that it had taken me to some ethereal plane that I did not wish to leave. I've been telling my friends to get tickets for this concert that is filled with drop-dead gorgeous music. I'm also telling them to bring kleenex.
General Admission, reservations strongly encouraged.
April 29, 2016 at 8:00 pm
First Presbyterian Church
701 Beach Drive NE, St. Petersburg
May 1, 2016 at 3:00 pm
Tampa Museum of Art, 120 Gasparilla Plaza, Tampa
Sneak peak at the music on the program...
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