Rasma Says

Musings, deliberations, flashes of unaccounted for brilliance…

Even the Unsung Song is Singing of Love and Farewell

If I could spell the sound my mac makes when a message is sent I would write it down as the word that marks this moment as a … milestone, turning point, new phase? not sure what to call it, but I have just informed my director that I am resigning from the choir.

The message is sent, so as of this moment, 20:42 10.01.2011, I am no longer a conbrioaner. To resign from Con Brio for no apparent reason is an audacious act. Con Brio has been in my life as a concept since 1977 when I first heard about Trond’s choir trip to Berlin at age 16 to sing Brahm’s Requiem. Con Brio took on immediate mythic proportions, with its renegade director Finn Norman, and the determination shown by half the choir travelling over two hours each way each week to meet; one week in Bodø, the next week in Mo i Rana.

My immediate reaction to hearing about con brio as a young university student in Aix-en-Provence, France, was to go and join the university mixed choir. Trond joined too and it was something we were always going to do together, sing in a choir. He soon dropped out. The same happened in Trondheim, but during the one year we lived there I got to sing Beethoven’s Ninth in the thousand year old stone cathedral. At graduate school in Wisconsin I felt privileged to be the only non music major in the chamber choir.

As I go back through that history I see there is a gap of many years when I did not sing in a choir. Those were the Madison years, and I wonder if choir was something I only ever did in foreign environs. In Madison I sang folk songs, and did not join a choir for reasons I do not at this point know.

One thing I do know is that it was during my Madison years that I started seriously writing poetry. I worked at writing poetry. Perhaps I didn’t have time for choir.

When I moved to Bodø in 2001 only a few days went by before I was in touch with Con Brio, via a project festival performance of Porgy and Bess. That is where I met Veronica. She had a different color nail polish on each toenail and could hear every nuance of intonation that the altos sang, or didn’t sing, and informed the director about it. It is also where I first came across Ejner, whom I thought had a unique speech defect which enabled him to sing, but not speak normally. Poor man, can’t form spoken words, what a miracle that he can sing them! Then I realized he could speak. He was just speaking Danish.

Ejner is in Con Brio now. Veronica is in Con Brio now. For the past so many years, Con Brio has been my one clear connection to the society, culture, country I live in. It was a privilege to be allowed to join. I was hardly good enough. Veronica, with her keen ear, thought at one point that I should be kicked out. But that was when I was ill and not functioning much. Fact is, I had a resonance in my voice that the director wanted, and I was the only woman he took in that autumn who did not come with the promise of an accompanying tenor or bass. In the ensuing years, I have learned more about singing than I have learned about anything else. Come to think of it, that is a significant observation. Since 2001 I have been primarily involved in learning music. Along with American and British history and culture, which I had to educate myself in for my job, song technique has been the focus of my life in Norway.

Suddenly it is not good enough. Suddenly I am ready to remove choir as the obstacle it is to my writing. Con Brio is a lifestyle choir, a hobby that becomes part of the way you live. About 5-6 weekends a year, 3-5 hours a week, go to rehearsal alone. It has been a wonderful life and lifestyle, but suddenly… I am not interested any more.

At Christmas Kazi read me her bachelor’s lecture on the aesthetic experience. Hegel and Dewey’s philosophical views of the same.  At one point she said something that made me stop and interrupt her. “That is it,” I said. “Now I know why people like me go around feeling the way we do.” It was a profound moment, one I couldn’t put words on. I can’t even put words on what it was she said. But it had to do with the artist’s inkling of the yet-to-be-achieved aesthetic experience. I understood in a fleeting yet profound instant, the the nature of our unrelenting, unquenched, nagging desire, the longing that makes us go around always, always, always, always, always thinking about one thing and one thing only: writing.

We are reaching, through every cell and nerve ending, toward that aesthetic experience. That is all we are, all we do. And when we don’t do it, we are haunted by the not doing of it. Writing.

Every time I even write that word there is a hesitation. As if I am daring to name YHWH. It causes me to tremble, to break down in tears. “You never cry about music,” said Veronica when I was discussing quitting choir with her and mentioned my writing. No sooner had the word gotten out of my mouth and I was weeping from that deep wordless place where the soul has its small tether to the body.

No, I don’t cry about music, and yet I have been living for music. It is easy to pave a path of distractions and obstacles that encourage one’s resistance to oneself. Somehow that is easier than walking bare breasted down the wide swath of your life.

Today I have given up my handhold on music. That swooshing email… that was the sound of me falling, no jumping with joy, off a cliff.

One comment on “Even the Unsung Song is Singing of Love and Farewell

  1. Verobo


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