I wish I had the words to accurately convey to you all the experience of performing Two Boys Kissing at the GALA festival this past Tuesday.
Words are inadequate. How do you capture the catharsis of emotions experienced? The profound love felt? The ephemeral moment?
I shall probably never have a musical performance experience like this for the rest of my life– but it is enough, I think.
I will try to describe things as best I can, but I won’t do it justice.
First of all, to better understand what’s to come, here’s a picture of the performance space:
The 2600 seat house was at absolute capacity for our performance. So many other choral delegates wanted to see this show– our show. The pre-buzz in the days leading up to Tuesday was intense.
Something changed in the chorus on the morning of the performance. All of our emotions were lying just contained under a paper veneer and kept bursting forth at unexpected times. It was as if everyone suddenly grasped the enormity of the text, the stories, and the message.
The music was made flesh.
At tech rehearsal, I broke down and sobbed– literally sobbed– at one point. And that outpouring of emotion just doesn’t happen to me. Especially in front of others.
It wouldn’t stop.
And I wasn’t alone.
So many of us felt the emotional enormity of the coming performance as we did our last minute rehearsing and the tears would start.
And tears beget more tears.
(Singing while crying is very difficult, by the way.)
As for the performance itself— how I wish I could make you understand, but I doubt you will. How could you? Maybe if you have performed an intensely emotional piece and held the audience lovingly in the palm of your hand. Maybe then you will have a frame of reference.
The best analogy I can think of is it was as if everyone in the hall was attending a Sacred service and this was our hour long prayer.
The audience was hushed for the whole performance, in rapt attention. Oh there was some laughter at the tension breaking moments. And also much crying, too, when the story became difficult.
I heard stories later of people saying whole rows were leaning forward in their seats, almost not breathing– not daring to destroy the moment.
There were no accidental cell phone rings that we heard. No coughs or chatter. Only occasional sniffles.
During the performance, my eyes were wet the entire time and my voice broke near the end and I almost wasn’t able to finish. This same story was echoed throughout the entire chorus. We were singing truth and it poured from our bodies along with the tears.
I believe the audience felt this and they reflected it a thousandfold unto us.
We were communing with the audience.
The energy in the hall was simply vibrating. My skin was vibrating.
My soul was vibrating.
When the last chord released into the ether, there was a pregnant silence before the applause began. The audience slowly stood as they came back to themselves and the applause slowly crescendoed until it became thunderous.
The applause and accolades followed us out of the hall as the crowd lined our exit from the hall.
And it continued outside the building.
So many wet faces. So many “thank yous”.
You see, the audience didn’t congratulate our performance or say “well done.” Instead it was a chorus of thank you.
“Thank you for that gift!”
“Thank you for that breathtaking moment.”
“Thank you for telling my story.”
A fellow chorus member had a random stranger hug him and say “That performance was Life summed up in one hour.”
I had a gentleman come up and tell me that he couldn’t stop watching me onstage– because I remind him of his husband whom he lost to AIDS.
(I hugged this man and was utterly reduced to a puddle of tears.)
I won’t bore you with more anecdotes of the validating comments we received. Suffice it to say that everyone I met who learned I sang with Twin Cities had words of praise and thanks for Two Boys Kissing.
It’s quite heady stuff to hear. Addicting, really.
The rest of the day I spent in a haze (as did we all). It was like a caffeine buzz and also like being high. It honestly felt like I was on the edge of a shiver or goosebumps all day and I would randomly burst into tears as I’d remember moments.
It was 11 hours before I felt less emotionally compromised. I was still fragile, but keeping it together.
I think Two Boys Kissing was pure moment realized by serendipitous convergence. The right piece, the right message, the right audience, the right time, and the right musicians and narrators to convey it all.
These moments are so rare, so beautiful. So fleeting.
I don’t believe a moment like this will happen again, at least for this piece. And maybe never again for me personally. Maybe I’m wrong.
I truly hope I’m wrong.
But how utterly blessed am I that I was a participant in this moment?