Tag Archives: Tao

Practicing with uncertainty: ‘Joshu’s dog spreads wings’

More than twenty years ago, I was a member of an amateur choral group that performed a Mozart Litany (K. 125). While it may have lacked the grandeur of the Verdi Requiem or the Beethoven Choral, it was the most challenging piece I ever attempted in my limited career as a utility bass. I have a very good sense of pitch, but rhythm and I are not always in sync, so the snappier passages were problematic in rehearsals, often leaving me in a cone of personal silence as I tried to figure it out. Then I had an insight: This was Mozart, after all, so rather than fret, I could put my trust in him, follow the notes on the page in only the most general way, and just sing what seemed right in the surrounding sound field and the flow of the moment. Astonishingly, it worked. I can remember feeling surprise, humility, gratitude, even a touch of ecstasy, both in rehearsal and in our sole performance one springtime Sunday afternoon.

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The Present Monument IV: Performance

What is performance but our best rebuttal to mortality? — George Sheehan

after 'Grian' by Julie Speidel

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The Present Monument III: Perspective

Time as succession, past and to come, . . . eternity itself, exists in present thought, is contained in the fleeting passage of the moment, so far as that passage compels the direct intuition of a thinking being. — G.L.S. Shackle

after 'Forres' by Julie Speidel

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The Present Monument II: Perception

. . . a realistic grasp of time opens onto the longing for eternity. — Robert Cummings Neville

after 'Aughna' by Julie Speidel

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