Saturday, January 29, 2005

Internalizing and Visualizing a Work

My major professor during my doctoral work was all about creating images for works we sang in choir. He would instruct the choir to write out his images in our music . . . like "in ms. 32 the sun bursts through the clouds . . . "

It was an interesting experience and I understand what he was trying to do for us. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then the right image can communicate much to a group trying to create a common interpretation for a piece of music.

I believe he would be very impressed with the students in our choir who have blogged out their impressions of Whitacre's Lux Aurumque. (the picture is Mr. Whitacre)

We have some very impressive young men and women in our choir:

1. Charles has given us:
As we sang this song, I started to form a mental image, as happens with me during most of our songs that we work on. However, none have ever been this vivid that I recall. The piercing high notes, heavy, thick, full chords and the beautiful Latin language all intertwined to present to me a perfect scene: Heaven at Night. I know we all think of Heaven probably as a beautiful sunlit place with shimmering floors and towering ivory ceilings, but what about when it's nighttime? Many people think night is even more beautiful than day here on Earth, so wouldn't you imagine that night in Heaven would be that much better? Can't you see and feel the warm darkness enveloping you in safety and sleep when you listen to that song? This song describes this scene so well to me, that it makes me think, if I could spend one night in heaven, it would be worth a thousand lifetimes. Even myself, who is sometimes afraid of the quiet darkness, when I listen to this song, it makes me feel as though everyone is either sitting reflectively or lying in their beds, and God and his angels are walking around, checking with everyone, just peeking in. It's everyone's alone time of reflection in heaven at this time of night, and the angels are singing their lullabies. Believe it or not, I got this image of this song, and felt and sensed all of these things, before I even read the translation of the words, something to the effect of, "Light, pure and heavy as pure gold, and the angels sing to the newborn baby," that's all I can remember of it. But maybe it could give you something to think about when we work on this piece next time. Until next time, just think, it's nighttime in heaven sometime.
2. Sarah has given us:
A single, pulsating ray of light descends
growing slowly, steadily brighter.

at the apex of the beam the angel host appear
the light is so bright,
so holy,
the shepherds avert their eyes
the host encompass the sky from horizon to horizon
and the rapturous light imbues the earth

Suddenly the angel song hushes, so soft it is barely audible,
in reverent awe of its Lord.
3. Clay has given us:
So this is a Christmas song that is describing what the angels were doing when Christ was born. The image I get is, in part, the same image I got when I sang a different song by Whitacre named "Water Night". The text for "Water Night" is from the spanish poet Octavio Paz and depicts both darkness and depth. Lux makes me think of the same setting as I did in water night. Darkness. Deepness. Quiet. There is one difference. A single angel amidst all the darkness singing his song to the newborn Christ. This song, Lux, is this angels song. One angels song. If one angel can sing this beautifully by himself, think of how much greater it is going to be when we are all singing praises together in heaven! The light, pure, warm and heavy as gold, is the angel. I see the light from the angel piercing the darkness and warming the newborn babe. Reassuring Him that everything is going to be ok. I think Christ would need this reassurance. After all, He came into this world in a manger and left the world nailed to a cross.
4. Erin has given us:
the greatest song in the world right now has got to be Lux Arumque by Eric Whitacre. When we sang it today, wow, I got chills. I picture a scene sortof like A Midsummer Night's Dream. There's a full moon; pure moonlight shining down into a forrest with a waterfall and the sound of crickets chirping. Then, out of the darkness of the trees comes one tiny gold light, floating, like a tiny angel. Man, I wish I could describe it better. It's so vivid in my mind. And that's just on the first page or two. I haven't figured out my picture for the rest of the piece but, I think I have a good start. I can't wait to sing it again tomorrow!
Fantastic and moving images, choir. Dr. Dickson would be proud.

2 comments:

Nick said...

Eric Whitacre wrote that he liked the BYU Singers because the director, Dr. Ronald Staheli, who himself composed "See What the End is Gonna Be" was a master at actually painting a picture with the silence of rests in the music. In fact he dedicated "When David Heard" to that choir and the piece has a plethora of grand pauses and breves. If you listen to the "Lux Aeterna" you can here the really amazing picture that the choir is painting...it sounds like illumination. I know you guys will do an incredible job with the piece and I am excited to see how much you all have commented on it. I think Eric Whitacre is one of my favorites as far as contemporary choral composers and I hope to have a choir one day that can master one of his works. to Dr. Copeland- have a great time in LA and good luck on your presentation...if you remember, tell me how LSU, Louisville, and BYU do...peace

Linc said...

im not sure about an image that comes to my mind when i sing the Lux
the first thing that came to me was a scene from lord of the rings
but even tho im not sure what i see
i know what i feel when i sing that song
i feel safe
and warm and just downright good
i feel in harmony with everyone in the choir even if we may not be singing it as well as the last time
everything's right when we sing that piece
God is there
even if you cant feel him
he's there
he was there when eric whiticare wrote it he was there when the angels sang it for the first time
to me this is a lullaby from a father to a son
he was tucking his boy in that night
i guess thats why i feel safe when we sing it
its like a big ol dark blanket
thats how i take this song
so ummmm......
rock and roll