A MUSICAL HIGH

by admin on July 10, 2011

mother and child

carmel bach festival

“what can be explained is not poetry.  what can be explained ……is not…..poetry.”  while esme’s childhood fashion education was not a rich one, her education in words was lush and varied.  she awoke this morning with these words from a recording she listened to as a girl—carl sandurg reading his poem “what is poetry?”  the internet is an amazing thing:  all esme had to do was google the phrase and up popped a utube video of this same recording for your listening pleasure!

what does this have to do with fashion, you may ask.  well, nothing and everything.  fashion, like art and music is non-verbal (well, duh!).  if poetry (made of words) can’t be explained, how could one possibly explain the non-verbal arts??  and yet this just what esme has been attempting to do.

listening to the bach festival rehearsals, esme has become convinced that in some undefinable way, music SAYS something.  it has a language all it’s own.  the bach fest conductor, paul goodwin, has an uncanny way of putting this something into verbal images and translating them into musical phrases.  phrases….there you go…..phrases SAY something.  and yet any attempt to EXPLAIN the saying ends in trivializing the musical experience.

i must tell you about the second bach festival rehearsal that esme attended.  this was a rehearsal for some of the vocal portions of the concerts, including a lovely piece by ralph vaughn williams, a rousing chorus by hayden, a celebration of king george by handel, and last but not least an absolutely mind-boggling little piece by the modern english composer john tavener.

esme had never heard of this last composer, so don’t worry if you haven’t either.  indeed, she has not tended to be a huge fan of contemporary music (how many of us are??).  the conductor explained that the composer, now in his 70′s, suffers from a debilitating disease that elongates all this limbs and organs.  his world tends to be slow and drawn-out, with some pieces lasting “all evening”!  this one, however, was blessedly short.  the composer had a period of intense interest in the greek orthodox religion, and currently is intrigued with what all religions have in common.  his music (a bit like that of bach??) grows out of his religious interest.

esme herself has never been a religious person.  however, she has had in her life a few quasi-mystical experiences, 2 (now 3) of which have been connected with music. how can one describe such a thing?  the musical piece expressed the words of the poem upon which it was based—a poem describing the bond between mother and infant  and how this bond reflects “the theophanic light”, or the manifestation of the divine in a human being.  well, you can see this gets quite complicated!  but the experience was simple:  esme, recalling the birth of christophe, and thinking as well of her own mother, was rendered …….speechless!  to say that she looked god in the eye would be an exaggeration, but……ok, you had to be there!

in fact, go!!!  and dress in your best, just in case you are transported into the sublime before you have a chance to pack a suitcase!

ecstatically,

esme

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Claire July 10, 2011 at 10:07 am

dearest esme! you have such a gift with words, which is so well exemplified by your sublime description of the music you have experienced at the Bach Festival rehearsals. as a festival volunteer for the last two seasons as well as the upcoming one, i am very excited about “experiencing” the energy of the new director…..thank you so much for your enthusiasm and beauty with words!! btw, i think we were all lamenting the departure of libby wallfisch but it sounds like we got a gem in paul goodwin……

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