"For a moment, death let herself go, expanding out as far as the walls, filling that whole room and flowing into the room next door, where a part of her stopped to look at the sheet music open on a chair, it was suite number six opus one thousand and twelve in d major by johann sebastian bach, composed in köthen, and she didn't need to read music to be able to know that it had been written, like beethoven's ninth symphony, in the key of joy, of unity between men, of friendship and of love. Then something extraordinary happened, something unimaginable, death fell to her knees, for she had a body now, which is why she had knees and legs and feet and arms and hands, and a face which she covered with her hands, and shoulders, which, for some reason, were shaking, she can't be crying, you can't expect that from someone who, wherever she goes, has always left a trail of tears behind her, without one of those tears shed being hers."
- Death with Interruptions, Jose Saramago
I posted this quote a little over a year ago, but on the occasion of my very first performances of Beethoven's 9th Symphony this weekend, it feels just to post it again.
It had been years since I had heard the 9th Symphony live, and experiencing it in rehearsal last night was quite overwhelming. As the orchestra and choir played and sang away, and as my heart started to pound at a quicker and more excited pace in my chest, I was reminded of the Saramago quote above. Yesterday, in our conductor-soloist meeting, Maestro Honeck kept pushing me to bring as much unbridled joy to my brief solo, and I almost felt as if I couldn't bring enough happiness, excitement, and jubilation to the two pages of music. Hearing the movement with full forces last night, I saw why. The music demands that we (both the audience and the performers) give in completely to hope, happiness, joy, celebration, and elation. It insists that we live completely in the positive for this one moment, which, perhaps, might not be a bad thing to aim for in every moment after, too.