Last week I had the opportunity to see the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra in one of their “Happy Hour at the Symphony” productions. I love these events – pulling in the young professional crowd in Indy and mashing up some classical with some fresh new music. This time they brought together Copland’s Appalachian Spring with some of Bon Iver’s music. It was…well I was lucky to be there and I’m so sorry, words are pathetic to try and describe it. It was unbearable, actually.
There were three vocalists seated in front of the orchestra who performed on the Bon Iver songs. Furthest to the left was a young black girl, her hair puffed out in all its natural glory, gold earrings barely touching her shoulders. She wore a short, straight black dress. She was short and strong and proud looking.
I noticed her during the movements of Appalachian Spring. She drew me in because, unlike the two other vocalists, she was lost in the music. As the orchestra took us with them through some – I’ll use the word again – unbearably beautiful moments, she closed her eyes and had the hint of a smile on her face. I caught the other two averting their gaze from the audience, glancing into their books to keep their place… but not this girl. She unapologetically luxuriated in every note. In the moments where I felt the most moved by the music, I knew I would find her reflecting my feelings in a soft smile, head tilted to the side, eyes closed.
Something about her complete absorption in the music moved me. And it made me think about the young lady I was attending the concert with. I have known her since she was 13 and I have watched her worship for years. She is so unique in the way she worships. She often will sing with a beaming smile on her face. Whether she is on or off the platform, whether the song is slow or fast, you can see her simply lost in the beauty of redemption.
So often we try to hide our emotion – particularly when we feel moved by something. We may furrow a brow or raise a hand to our chest. But we try to control it. We don’t want to share that moment with others. To show our hand. To let others know that we have been affected so deeply. But humanity craves some transcendence of this shell. We need to see one another feel.
Both this vocalist at the symphony and my friend who attended with me are an encouragement to me to wear it. To wear that moment. That moment where my heart is moved. To wear it on my face, on my lips, and in my posture. It is unbearably beautiful in itself.