on music

8 Dec

About a week before Thanksgiving break, I decided to walk instead of bike home from school (which, to where I live in Market East, is kind of a trek but I was in the mood).  I slid in my head phones and just listened to the “playlist” of “recently” (often not recently at all) purchased songs, not really having any idea what that included.

A few songs in, the familiar swell of the first chord of “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming,” the Robert Shaw Chamber Singers rendition, sounded.  In the split-second breath between the first two notes, tears came to  my eyes.  This very simple carol is stunning.  Like Rachmaninoff’s Vespers, which literally has countless incidence records of divine occurrences during performance, this is one of many a cappella choir pieces that has a way of overpowering me.  I am not a religious person (as the only one of four siblings not baptized–a pretty hilarious story for another day–I’m the little heathen of the family), but I can’t help but believe that something otherworldly must exist, for she is felt within the string of notes assembled by the impassioned, delivered by uninhibited singers.

Music has been a wonderful part of my life. Well, you know I tend to be a little melodramatic (and this post has been kinda mushy), so I’m just going to come out with it: I think I’m grieving the loss of music.  Sounds totally ridiculous, no?  But the little scene I made on 24th and Pine while listening to the Robert Shaw Chamber Singers was not an isolated incident.  This past weekend, I attended Erica’s choir concert at St. Bart’s in NYC, and then Monday morning in Anatomy, Doria asked, “So, how was the concert?  How many times did you cry?”  Lower lip jutted outward: “Just once” (during Whitacre’s Lux Aurumque).  Finally, in Italy, on the train to Florence, I didn’t exactly cry, but I did listen to Holst’s Ave Maria for 8-part women’s chorus quite obsessively on repeat.

I’m in a choir now (sort of…more on that later), but I don’t think that will be possible a year from now, and that understanding is starting to sink in.  One of the questions I ask students interviewing at Penn is what they think the hardest part about medical school will be for them, what they’ll miss from their previous lives.  Absolutely no regrets, but I miss music, and the part of my identity tied up in it.  It’s been on my mind a lot recently–hence the unusually somber tone of this post–so I’ve decided to devote the next four days to remembering some particularly poignant musical experiences/moments/endeavors…don’t worry, lots of anatomy and microbio will be spliced in, and it won’t all be so serious.

From the weekend:

Kyle, former roommate from post-bac, currently taking Cornell Med by storm:

Halle and Ted, they are good-humored friends who are willing to eat gelato with me in 15-degree weather and insist on dragging around my suitcase for me:

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3 Responses to “on music”

  1. Jill Blasingame December 8, 2010 at 7:51 pm #

    I sort of wondered when this would happen, music is such a significant part of who you are.

  2. Erica December 8, 2010 at 10:51 pm #

    Bahahaha. I didn’t know you guys went out for Gelato!! Love it 🙂

  3. Jim Oppenheimer December 10, 2010 at 2:08 pm #

    Whitacre’s been doing some interesting stuff, some of which we’ve done. I like his virtual choir:

    http://ericwhitacre.com/the-virtual-choir

    And for something completely different:

    [The Hebrew is just “Carmel – a cappella”

    My seminary degree is good for something after all….]

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