Commencement: The Act of Beginning

By: Jane

May 14 2011

Category: Uncategorized


Spoleto - Flum

Several weeks ago I posted a memory list that was made up of reflections upon my childhood up to the age of about 11. I guess I’m one of those people who has compartmentalized her life, because this weekend an entirely different set of remembrances came upon me in a flood of sights, sounds and surroundings. Just as the previous memory post probably bored to tears anyone who was not a part of that time, so this one is for those who shared with me the years from 1972 to 1976. The rest are certainly welcome to read along, and I thank you for humoring me.

Friday evening my husband and I returned to Princeton, New Jersey, in and of itself a lovely place to have had the privilege of spending 4 years of our lives. We attended a concert in Bristol Chapel, given by the current Westminster Choir under the direction of Joe Miller. His name, by the way, seems to be a reflection of who he is. His students obviously love him. In addition to the kind of talent that it takes to direct a choir of this caliber, he exudes a genuine warmth which, to someone who first learned under the direction of such a leader, explains a lot about the kind of sound he gets from them. He could have himself introduced as Dr. Joseph Miller, but he’s just……Joe Miller.

Anyway, as usual, we got there just in the nick of time, in much the same manner that I arrived for our wedding, in that same chapel. (Actually, I was 20 minutes late. To this day the organist, one of our dearest friends, has not forgiven me for making him “mesmo” in front of Joseph Flummerfelt and the Westminster Choir.) We walked up those same steps and stood at the back door looking down the same aisle that I walked almost 35 years ago. Packed. SRO. Shortly thereafter the choir followed us up the steps, dressed in concert black and tails…a bunch of kids who wouldn’t be born for 15 years after OUR last concert as members of the Westminster Choir. (Can you see how the memories are all mingling together, creating for me, an atmosphere of the past? Did I mention that Westminster Choir sang at our wedding?)

Some of the selections that they sang on Friday night were familiar to us, some were not. All were stunningly beautiful. The familiar pieces had tears running down my face and dripping off my chin. Being in that place, listening to those voices, looking at the concert black and tails…..I didn’t see them. I saw us.

They don’t realize yet, I don’t think, what a privilege they have had in being a part of that community, the place where angels go to learn to sing. They won’t get it for about 10 years. Someday, probably after I’m gone, maybe some of them will return, and feel the gratitude and awe, that they were ever able to be a part of that music.

Recordings just aren’t the same as being in a room where the sound is all around you. There is no way I can explain the sound that can only be heard there. I can only urge you, if you have never heard Westminster singing, to find a way to hear it before you die.

There’s more. But it deserves a separate post, which will follow quickly on the heels of this one. I haven’t even touched on commencement. Westminnies…stay tuned.


2 comments on “Commencement: The Act of Beginning”

  1. alright you make a good argument, I’ll add it to the list.

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