I walk into the room after the rehearsal has begun, and the men are working on a slow passage of Handel. Choirs I and II sing the same tenor, baritone and bass parts at this part of the piece, and they have unified their pitch and the round warmth of their Latin vowels so that despite having only ten of them singing a relatively soft phrase, the sonority is beautifully intense and sweeps me into the room on an almost ecstatic wave.I sit and finally have a look around. The doctoral student assistant is conducting, and one of the voices raised is my husband’s, from where he’s joined Choir II. I close my eyes for just a moment to listen to the lilt and roll of the men’s voices.
When the women rejoin and the full ensemble begins to move forward, picking up speed and volume as the text becomes more buoyant, I feel myself lifted further on the waves, transported far from this concrete box of a room and its cold fluorescent lights.Suddenly I am under the morning light pouring through a cathedral’s oculus, gazing up into the curves of the arched nave and dome. I am pacing sedately through the arcade of a cloister, the afternoon sun warming my heels as it peers into the intervals between the pillars. I am in the garden, watching the sun set on the curled canes of the roses climbing there,the bows of the water leaping in the fountain, the draped arms of the willow as it leans out to embrace the day’s last rays of light.