Tag Archives: christmas

Christmas in my head

I sang a wedding last weekend.  While we were waiting for the ceremony to begin, the trumpet player confessed to me that the Little Drummer Boy always makes her teary…especially the bit about having nothing to offer, but here you go, little baby, take my drum.

I then made my own confession:  I cry when the bride comes down the aisle.  The bride and groom might be complete strangers, and I might not ever see them again, but still: little puddles of salt water in my eyes.  I used to sing Kurt Weill’s Saga of Jenny in my head when that unmistakable, sneaky burn of pre-tears kicked in.  It’s a good, upbeat number with funny lyrics, and it immediately takes me to a happy place in my head.  The problem is, I start thinking about dancing too, and I don’t trust myself.  I might accidentally get up and let the spirit move me, which would be decidedly bad.

But my sensitive trumpet player had brilliant advice: Think About Santa Claus.  You know, fat, jolly man with whiskers and a happy Ho Ho Ho.

It worked.  Bride in sight.  Burny tear feeling.  Fat, jolly man with whiskers.  Little smile.  Flood averted.

Thanks, Santa.

And Santa, in case you need to keep from laughing sometime, try thinking about a bride walking down the aisle.  It helps if you throw the sounds of a trumpet and some strings in the background.


The First Night countdown is skipping right along.  Yesterday, Henry and I rehearsed our music, Ryan and I took a tango lesson with Roxanne, and my musician friends who live upstairs gave their stamp of approval on my new dress.  It’s fancy.

Today, I’m sitting in the Symphony box office.  The glass doors allow me a great view of the falling snow, and Powell Hall is about as festive a place you can find this time of year.  Amidst the chatter of my fellow box officers and visiting patrons, I’m hearing the St. Louis Symphony rehearse its NYE concert (I won’t tell you what they’re playing, or who the special guest is.   It’s top secret.  Suffice it to say, I’m sad I’m missing the concert.)

Staring at the falling snow takes me back a couple of weeks to Berlin and the LaBarge family extravaganza.  We spent days walking around Berlin, where intermittent flakes regularly made the Christmas markets a dusty white.  And hearing our Symphony reminds me of the enthusiastic audiences at the Berlin Philharmonic.  I’ve never seen a group of concert goers celebrate music the way those Berliners did.  The applause for the Brahms Requiem continued long after the Atlanta Symphony Chorus members had closed their mouths, Donald Runnicles had lowered his baton, and the orchestra members had set down their instruments.

Yes indeed, now is a very good time to make and hear and applaud music.  Happy New Year!

Why we sing

Every once in awhile, someone reminds me that the world likes singing.

I had the pleasure of observing a long-time friend of the family the other day.  He stood in front of his Maryville class and community members and led them through a Latin reading of Luke’s Nativity account.  Never have I seen a more genuine celebration of the Giving Season.   I was invited to sing a couple of pieces in Latin to round out the affair…in the university’s library….that hallowed ground where one is not supposed to speak, more or less sing the Bach-Gounod “Ave Maria.”  But sing it I did, according to the good Doctor’s wishes.  And halfway through “Adeste Fideles,” some individuals in the group took me up on my offer, and they sang too.  They even thanked me afterward for singing and for letting them sing.  I should have been the one doing the thanking.

I walked away thinking, maybe it isn’t as hard as we think to give and receive.  Sometimes it just  takes driving to Maryville University, listening to a beloved professor engage with his students, and singing.

A day later, the professor and friend told me he’d been thinking about this poem by Wordsworth.  I’m now convinced.  We sing because the world likes it.  Before, during and after.

BEHOLD her, single in the field,
Yon solitary Highland Lass!
Reaping and singing by herself;
Stop here, or gently pass!
Alone she cuts and binds the grain, 5
And sings a melancholy strain;
O listen! for the Vale profound
Is overflowing with the sound.
No Nightingale did ever chaunt
More welcome notes to weary bands 10
Of travellers in some shady haunt,
Among Arabian sands:
A voice so thrilling ne’er was heard
In spring-time from the Cuckoo-bird,
Breaking the silence of the seas 15
Among the farthest Hebrides.
Will no one tell me what she sings?—
Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow
For old, unhappy, far-off things,
And battles long ago: 20
Or is it some more humble lay,
Familiar matter of to-day?
Some natural sorrow, loss, or pain,
That has been, and may be again?
Whate’er the theme, the Maiden sang 25
As if her song could have no ending;
I saw her singing at her work,
And o’er the sickle bending;—
I listen’d, motionless and still;
And, as I mounted up the hill, 30
The music in my heart I bore,
Long after it was heard no more.