In light of recent events, I have found that some of the only solace I can find is not in the bottom of a bottle or tub of ice cream. It's actually in love, in beauty, and in music. Luckily for me, I have had to work diligently over the last week because there are musicians waiting for me to give them their selections so that they can begin practicing. One piece – well, two movements of one piece actually – have been especially poignant to me this week, and I have listened to them again and again. They are "Louange a l'éternité de Jésus" (movement V) and "Louange a l'immortalité de Jésus" (movement VII), both from the Quartet for the end of time by Messiaen.
I have been a fan of Messiaen since I sang a few of his songs in graduate school. They are not easy. In fact they are some of the most challenging music I have ever had to sing. And that is why I was again drawn to these remarkable pieces: because they embodied the discomfort I felt. They allowed me to sink into it, to sense it at a deep level. I wanted to turn the music off at times because some of the harmonies were simply too uncomfortable, but I made myself sit through them, and I am going to ask our audiences to do the same during our events in December.
Whatever your beliefs, I think we can all agree that our world is in a state of dis-ease at the moment. Turning off or ignoring those feelings is not the answer. Leaning into them, allowing ourselves to feel them, in fact, searching for ways to experience them more deeply is, I believe, our duties as citizens of this city and of this world.
I urge you to listen to these pieces (below are two of my favorite renditions), and we hope to see you on December 8th at V Wine Room in West Hollywood and December 14th at Héritage Fine Wines in Beverly Hills.
Now more than ever, beauty is absolutely essential.