Today was a rare day when we could take our island out for some fresh air and that rarest of all things, a public concert.
The brilliant Dallas-based choral ensemble Verdigris presented a program called “Life In Our Times”, comprised of four of their solo singers performing recital style, bookended by two ensemble pieces at either end. The glorious voices, soprano Erinn Sensenig, mezzo Katrina Burggraf, tenor Alex Bumpas and baritone Derrick Brown, each sang three or four songs of their choosing introduced by their own statements about what the COVID related isolation has meant to them. Each was about journeys towards some measure of understanding and each posed as many questions as were answered.
The ensemble’s director, Sam Brukhman, talked about a feeling of recovery that he and the singers had felt from the moment they joined again in song. Even the audience shared in that restorative moment. The most moving part was the sheer pleasure of live singing. From the opening strains of the first ensemble piece, Sondheim’s “No One Is Alone” there was a sense of return, not, as Ms. Sensenig pointed out to me afterwards, a triumphant one, but halting and unsure yet forward to something that could measure as normal.
The concert was different than any I had encountered, not in terms of format or even in the stirringly personal choice of music by each of the singers. It was clearly a concert of the pandemic – social distanced singers and audience sitting or standing in a parking lot, masks on all, muted but glorious, nevertheless.
On this gorgeous autumn day, we were witness to the eternal serendipity of art. Nine months ago, such a concert would have been undreamed of. Now we were witness to a thing of earthly and intimate beauty. I will never be grateful for the pandemic in any way, but at least it provided the magical opportunity and inspiration to produce a timeless moment.
And that is a thing filled with hope. Humans can always take monstrous calamity and create beauty in its wake.