It has been a glorious evening for music. Beginning with an "archive" Prairie Home Companion, recorded some year previous on the Saturday after Advent Sunday. (Apologies for how convoluted that sounded.) It was marvelous.
Garrison led the audience in singing first a song that I did not recognize and apparently neither did a lot of the audience - Garrison said the words, then the audience sang them. Then, he lead them in a song by Gershwin or Porter or one of that ilk, a song that more people knew. He swung from that into "There'sa Place for Us" from West Side Story.
Elsa beat it downstairs to the living room when she heard the strains of it up in the "Budgies' Roost" because she knew I would be misty-eyed thinking of Pete. Of course, almost everyone in the audience knew the words to that one. He ended up leading them in "Somewhere Over theRainbow" - I think babies now-a-days are born knowing the words and music. It was wonderful listening to audience singing along so happily.
Listening to Garrison leading the audience and to them happily following
reminded me of when the three of us - Mim, Elsa, myself - heard Garrison at the Academy of Music. He lead the audience in a song that evening, too. I cannot remember what the song was, I did not know it, but I remember being floored to hear Mim singing along. She had learned it when she was fifteen, at camp out at the Ripley Ranch (Betty and Paul hosted a camp every summer for New Church kids in California). I remember how Garrison drew all of us into the melody and just naturally instilled a confidence we could - and would - join in.
It was a magical moment, although I did not really connect an image until Mim leaned over to tell me where she learned the song - I remember looking around me and watching everyone singing, happy, leaning forward, almost as if Garrison was a camp fire and we were gathered around his flame.
I was still basking in the happiness of hearing the group singing when
Garrison introduced a guest vocalist and the two of them sang, "Just a Songat Twilight." Elsa pounded downstairs again to be with me. That is one of two songs I have selected to be sung after my memorial celebration - that song and "Smile a While and Kiss Me Sad Adieu." It sounded so special, just Garrison in his reedy tenor and his guest singing is simply and with such soft feeling.
I thought the evening was complete. Not so, as it turns out. The New Jersey Symphony had an all-Copland evening. The three of us listened to "Appalachian Spring" as we ate dinner. John lit out for the studio (he is under deadline for an illustration assignment) and Elsa went back upstairs too. Then the orchestra started to play "A Lincoln Portrait." When the narrator started introducing the section that included the Gettysburg Address, sure enough there was the sound of pounding footsteps and once more Elsa appeared at my side to hold my hand. The Gettysburg Address always gets me right smack in the heart.
It has been a wonderful evening of music and happiness. I will waft off to sleep (after a slice of pumpkin pie) with melodies swirling around me and a smile on my lips.
Nite nite and God bless - Nan