According to Sam and Jim Commenting on things that irk us off, make us laugh out loud or just seem too weird too believe According to Sam and Jim: Holiday Music Makes Me Sentimental, Even Lachrymose

Monday, November 11, 2013

Holiday Music Makes Me Sentimental, Even Lachrymose

I was waxing nostalgic yesterday. Of course I had to explain to Sam that I meant I was becoming all maudlin about holiday music. That is to say I was becoming sentimental, emotional, lachrymose about holiday music (don’t ask me to explain lachrymose, okay?) This happens to me every year about this time. But I wasn’t self-pityingly or tearfully sentimental, like Mary Magdalene weeping in her penance (where the term maudlin apparently comes from), and I wasn’t like a drunk crying in his cups. No, I was simply being sentimental.

I love the Thanksgiving through Christmas holidays. Every time I walk outside right now I can see gold and yellow leaves that remind me of fall and when I travel I see harvested farmlands that remind me of Thanksgiving and how thankful I am for my life and my loved ones. Every time I walk outside and smell the nearby fir trees they make me think of Christmas trees. The best holiday memories for me though are musical ones - not those from recorded artists but those in which I was personally involved; those magical musical moments when I raised my God-given voice to sing a song.

Possibly my favorite musical memory is the time my high school a cappella choir sang Christmas music at the Eureka Inn, a beautiful old Tudor hotel in Humboldt County, California. What a magical day that was. The inn was decorated in festive reds and golds, choirs from all around the county had come together to give a special concert. Mr. Swackhammer, Fortuna High School’own Julliard School of Music conductor, looked dapper and oh, so handsome in his pin-striped suit, with his silver-gray hair flowing elegantly as he waved his talented fingers to coax the high notes and the low notes from us soto voce or basso profundo or fortissimo in perfect harmony. I can’t think of many times I’ve felt like I sang better than I did that day (remember David Westbrook?).

I’ve sung in a lot of choirs over the years. Another favorite memory is being in concert with the Whatcom Chorale in Belingham, WA. I loved it when we sang Handel’s Messiah in Assumption Catholic Church with its high arched ceilings, and its beautiful stained glass windows. I loved the bright red poinsettias at the altar and hearing the incredible tones of the big pipe organ soaring overhead. I loved standing among a hundred friends, all of us dedicated to bringing the joy of music to an appreciative audience.

And speaking of the Messiah, I also loved performing the Young Messiah, an upbeat version of Handel’s standard, with a Bellingham church choir a couple of times. I wondered how anyone could improve on what Handel wrote, but the Young Messiah is a magical work of absolute genius. I soloed in one of those performances and sang a duet with a lady who had a wonderful soprano voice. Wow! I still get goose bumps thinking about it. And my Young Messiah CD gets played over and over and over again every Christmas season.

A more recent happy holiday music memory is attending a concert performed by the 95-voice Olympia Choral Society every year. Directed by Terrance Robert Bernard Shaw (that’s really his name), the Choral Society puts on a great show. The best part is the free admission and any donation Kathleen and I - and other people - make goes to help some local charity.

Sam and I wish you happy holiday music everyone. And that’s the straight Christmas glittered poop!

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