Monday, April 17, 2006
I Could Handle Messiah
(My mom still giggles at that pun...)
After the performance was over, as I was making my exit, I couldn't help but marvel once again that this happened despite having cancer, surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy drugs invading the right brain, where musical ability and memory are controlled. I could remember. I could discern pitch. I could sing. It meant so much to me. I had my diva moment and sang my solo to the best of my ability. Later in the performance, my husband and I sang a duet, "O Death, Where is Thy Sting?" We were divas together. It felt great. (Although I hoped I wasn't throwing down a gauntlet by taunting Death with that song!)
The preservation of my musical ability is a miracle, a tender mercy, a great blessing, and more. It was a great gift. In addition, I managed to have enough strength to withstand the nearly 90-minute performance, despite having had so many previous days of illness and exhaustion. Sometimes I could barely endure rehearsals. My energy level during the performance was amazing. I feel very blessed and grateful.
We had a wonderful audience, and I was happy to know so many members of the audience. We had lots of local friends and family there, and we also had some who traveled from the Houston area and even from as far as St. Louis - just to hear me sing. It meant a whole lot to me to be able to sing to as many people as possible.
I don't know if this is my last Messiah performance. I pursued it as though it were, but I hope that it is far from my last one. My dad suggested that I should be like Cher, who has had ten "farewell" tours. My brother predicts that four years from now everyone will be rolling their eyes when I come in again for my audition - "Here comes Sister Oakes, saying it's her last Messiah AGAIN". I hope he's right. We don't know how long I'll be here, and we don't know how long my musical ability will last even when I am here. But all things are possible.
Handel's Messiah is not only an amazing oratorio, but the story behind it is remarkable, too. Handel's career was in ruins; he was bankrupt; his mother had recently died. He was about as down and out as one can be. With a little money from his mother's estate, and with the scriptural libretto from a friend, he began an intense, three-week process that was filled with inspiration as he wrote the entire score of Messiah. It not only defined him as a composer, but it allowed him to become a philanthropist who used the money from his work to free debtors and benefit orphans. Like the real Messiah, Handel's Messiah brought him from despair to glory. There is hope for all of us to be rescued from our deepest trials, and this was indeed something to celebrate. I was glad to be able to do it with wonderful music, surrounded by friends and family, savoring talents and abilities during this season of unknown duration, where they still exist.
Thanks to my brother Blake, these performances were captured on stealth video: