Mendota Heights '13
To continue a response to Courtney's opening question of "why are we here?" I would say that not only are we here to grow and to learn, but also we are here to experience. Our evening excursion for today brought us back to the grandiose York Minster for an orchestral and choral performance of Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 8, "Symphony of a Thousand." Sitting under the Gothic stone arches of the church, waiting in silence for the concert to begin, we were surrounded by vocalists, instrumentalists, music enthusiasts, gargoyles, and a thousand years of history. And with that in mind, the organ and the voices of the choir and strings exploded into the sanctuary--I was sincerely momentarily breathless. Attempting to explain the music itself in words would be both presumptuous of me and quite in vain, but I will try to give a sense of the overwhelming power of such a masterpiece performed within another masterpiece.
The Minster is, unfortunately, not designed for sounds of this genre; this caused some of the more complex sections of the symphony to be muddied by building too heavily on one another. However, any temporary distortion of the sound could be completely overlooked in hearing the four- to six-second ring following the conclusions of Parts 1 and 2 of the symphony. It was as if the masons' original intentions--that the Minster would direct all thought and prayer to the heavens--was embodied in the final chords being lifted from ground level up to the pointed arches of the gilded ceiling and out the stained glass windows to the skies above.
Being able to witness such an extraordinary and infrequently performed symphony within arguably one of the most impressive buildings in the United Kingdom was a noteworthy experience, to say the least. Simply hearing the music and watching the performers while surrounded by hundreds of hearts and eyes all focused on the same complex piece of beauty--there are truly no words to fully depict the sensation. We are here to learn, and to grow, and to experience, and hopefully to share all of this with one another.