Soprano Jenni Kilvert is about to get married – so of course she is the perfect person to tell us about Choral Music and Love…
Love is a many splendored thing
Love lifts us up where we belong
All you need is love”
When I was asked to write this piece on music and love, these were the first words that came into my head. The opening lines from the Elephant Love Medley from the film Moulin Rouge (because what sums up love better than Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor leaping around a massive metal elephant positioned in the middle of the Moulin Rouge singing?). And then I panicked.
I had been asked to write this post because my fiancé and I are recently engaged and getting married later this year. Who better then to write about music and love? This is where I have to let you into a little secret – we don’t even have “a song”. In fact, we had already decided that we were so rubbish in this department that we had asked my sister to sort all the music for during the signing of register and have just left her to get on with it.
So I panicked some more about writing this post, did some more thinking, did some Googling and then asked my friends. One person could come back to me with a couple of songs. This did include Greater Love by John Ireland which is gorgeous, and if you’ve not heard it, do go and listen to it.
Generally choral music and love don’t seem to go hand in hand, not in the conventional way. I’m not aware of people putting on Valentine’s choral concerts, and the few pieces that I could find are all by modern composers, which I guess is quite surprising when you consider how much love was written about in plays, but then maybe it was left to opera. There are many love songs in opera, but I have to say I struggle with them. They are mostly big and a bit scary and don’t remind me of or evoke love at all, but maybe someone can point me in the direction of one that would change my mind.
But I have pieces of music that I love and am in love with. They are pieces that speak to me, send goose bumps down my spine – transporting me back to a place and a memory. I had been looking at it all wrong. Love in music is of course more complicated than belting out the Whitney, Mariah and Take That of my teenage years (THAT saxophone in A Million Love Songs though….).
I will always love Mozart’s Requiem. When I was in my third year at university the orchestra and choir went on a tour of Ireland and this is the piece that we played in many concerts over the week. It’s not a romantic piece, it doesn’t speak of love, but it fills me with memories of a week of friendship and fun that I will always love and cherish. It will always be tied to that week and those people, and I know this is true for a lot of other people on the tour too.
The last phrase sung in Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis is a single phrase that I love. I enjoy singing the whole piece, don’t get me wrong, but there is something about the right combination, of the right notes, at the right time that just makes something in my stomach go. The very first time I heard it in a tutti rehearsal with the orchestra it took my breath away. I cannot explain why, but at that moment everything seems perfect, safe and right.
I have more examples of pieces and phrases of music that stir memories, or give me butterflies, but I’m hoping by now that you are thinking of the pieces that do that for you and the reasons why.
I’m a firm believer that music doesn’t have to be about love to evoke those feelings. Sometimes those pieces that are meant to speak to us of love, do the exact opposite. What pieces of choral (or non-choral) music leaps to your mind that applies to either of those? I’m always willing to have my knowledge of music extended so would love to hear your views. Please feel let us know on our Facebook Page.
Oh, and in case you’re worried about my fiancé and my musical future, we do have one song that we would probably call ours – The Muppets ‘Mahna Mahna’. Feel free to ask me why if you ever meet me.