Student Experience Blog

Prestissimo

This weekend, C of I's Chorale was invited to perform at the Morrison Center with the Boise Philharmonic and Master Chorale. It's the second year in a row that we've performed at this venue with such talented company, and it's a great honor. This year, the honor was even greater than last year ... but I'm struggling on how to describe why this is so.

Honestly, I've been staring at this page for nearly 20 minutes now thinking about how I could best sum up my experience this weekend with those groups, and the piece we performed together. Where exactly can I start to accurately communicate what I felt as I sang the prestissimo in the fourth movement of Ludwig Van Beethoven's Symphony No. 9? Is there even a way at all without sounding cliché or too profound? Perhaps the only way is to work my way up to that moment with one of my patented pithy epigrams: Inspiration breeds inspiration.

If there's something I've been on the lookout for during my time as a college student to this point, it's inspiration. I've touched on this point a couple times in some of my past poists, but I'll repeat it here--I want to do something with my life that I can feel a regular passion for, something that will keep me constantly inspired. I've certainly come to the conclusion that writing will lead me to this inspiration, but inspiration comes in more forms than just one singular subject. People ask me all the time why I sing in all these choirs when I'm not planning on making music my major, or even one of my minors. In most cases, I tell them that it's simply because I enjoy it, but moments like that prestissimo remind me that such a response is a shorthand way of expressing my passion for choral music. The harmony of so many voices coming together for a beautiful, singular purpose is something that touches me, something that reminds me that the world, for all its chaos, can still have moments of emotional clarity.

But this musical inspiration does not happen completely organically. Sure, the feelings that come from the prestissimo are genuine and strong, but it's only because there was someone who was inspired to create the sounds which I'm reacting so strongly towards. The inspiration we feel on a day-to-day basis is brought about by individuals who were themselves inspired, and when it comes to the world of music, there were few as inspired as Beethoven. The man's compositional style changed the face of music forever, transitioning from classical styles to something much different. The chances Beethoven took in each of his symphonies paved the way for composers of all stripes today, his dissonances and absolutely crazy sense of rhythm bringing romanticism into a new era. Moreover, Beethoven didn't let a silly matter like deafness impede his progress--he composed the 9th when he was almost completely deaf. How inspired must he have been to write music he would never be able to physically hear?

That's the sort of inspiration that inspires everyone else. It clearly was inspiring Maestro Franz this weekend, his conducting style more like a dance than a simple time keeping measure, his face one of pure bliss as his arms quickly fell up and down with the very sudden shift in tempo. It was definitely inspiring the men and women of the Philharmonic as they furiously slid their bows across their strings. All of which were inspiring the singers, myself included, to plunge into the prestissimo with gusto.

I'm going to remember this section for the rest of my life. The frantic violins. The percussion crashing to my right. The voices, in thunderous tones, proclaiming joy to all peoples. The way everything came together, in a rushing melody that will live on even as Beethoven himself lies in his grave. That, my dear blog readers, is inspiration. And this is a moment that has reaffirmed why I sing in the first place. How else will I get to experience moments this stunning without music in my life?

Look at me, getting this worked up over a performance at the Morrison Center. I can only imagine how overwhlemed I'm going to be when Chamber Singers hits Carnegie Hall in March.

-Clayton Gefre

Clayton is a sophomore creative writing major from Meridian, Idaho.

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