Thursday, February 18, 2016

Lux perpetua luceat eis

A well-connected friend got me a good seat for Voices of Ascension's concert tonight, their old standard, the Duruflé Requiem, preceded by a range of other French choral pieces (including three by Lili Boulanger). I went in a little unenthusiastic - the last concert of their I attended was another old chestnut, the Vivaldi Gloria, which left me seriously underwhelmed. But Voices has a special connection to Duruflé... So glad I went! I was transported... first, to the other time I heard it, on the centenary of Duruflé's birth, 11 January, 2002, and at his church, St. Etienne-du-Mont in Paris, no less. But it transported me also to the environs of the world of the dead - in a way the requiem is our version of the "Tibetan Book of the Dead," tracing the route we wish for the dead through the bardo. So much of Duruflé's Requiem has swirling, almost dancing beats. Everything seems in motion, death not the end, the subsiding, the collapse of something but an opening... Might everyone be borne along by something like this music, I thought.

At some point I felt that I was seeing, in some luminous firmament high above, my grandmother - someone I confess I almost never think of. (She didn't believe in firmaments either, I think.) But when I went back to my diary I found that I'd thought of her that day in St. Etienne-du-Mont, too. Perhaps I will meet her every time I hear this piece.

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