Christ Church St Laurence has been connected with my family for a long time. It was reported that my eccentric great Aunt Bee regularly slept on the church grounds, with the apparent blessing of the rector.
My daughter, daiskmeliadorn, attends Christ Church St Laurence, and on Mothering Sunday she invited her mother – and me – to a Lenten concert they were having; J.S. Bach’s B Minor Mass. Holy cow!! My favourite work by my favourite composer.
[The performers acknowledge applause after J S Bach’s B Minor Mass.
Christ Church St Laurence, Lent 2017]
When I was very young, there was a little girl, a few years younger than me, who lived next door to my grandparents. We encountered little Josie frequently, and when my parents moved into that house about 20 years later, Josie would still appear from time to time. She lived in the Netherlands then, but came home to visit. Now my mother has moved out into a nursing home, Josie’s parents live in a retirement centre, but Josie has come back from the Netherlands and lives in the same house. She’s now a famous soprano – and she sang in the B Minor Mass at Christ Church St Laurence.
There was another connection we didn’t expect too. The person playing the baroque flute in the St Laurence Baroque Orchestra (beautifully, to my ear anyway) was daiskmeliadorn’s old friend Jess.
And to cap off the connections, we sat in a pew just behind a couple, Phillip & Rosemary, who we used to know quite well when he was rector of St George’s Paddington but who we haven’t seen for at least 10 years. It was great to catch up with them and hear about their four children and ten grandchildren.
The performance wasn’t perfect. There was an instance where the cello started playing at the wrong place in the score and they had to stop and start again. And late in the first part we had a long pause while the conductor disappeared for a few minutes (I’m guessing he needed a ‘comfort break’, but as a prostate cancer sufferer myself, I’m fairly forgiving of people needing to bow to such physiological demands). But somehow these little imperfections made this occasion even more captivating in its context as our family’s celebration of mothering. After all, is it perfect performance we expect from mothers (and others)? As a parent who has made a litany of parenting mistakes over the years, I hope that a spirit of forgiveness might form a large part of any reflection on my role in the world.
I have listened to a recording of Bach’s B Minor Mass many, many times in the early morning ‘Bach time’ that starts my work day, but I had never before experienced a live performance. This occasion, enhanced by the integration of music, friends, and family, will be one I remember as a highlight in my music life.