The Flowers and the Fartersons Paint the Town Red

Recently, we all got together and went to a Christmas concert in the Metropolis which featured Michael W. Smith and the Metropolis Symphony.

Full disclosure: Though I think MWS is a wonderful and talented composer and musician, I ... don't really like his voice. It always takes me back to when I first heard one of his Christmas albums and there was a choir singing beautifully--I don't even remember the song now, but it was a classical choir that was just lovely--and then MWS came in, and then I was struck by the difference between his voice and the choir's voices and now I feel like a big ol' snob.

So I was a little hesitant to accept the invitation to go the concert. But am I glad I did!

See, I was reading A Million Little Pieces, and it really affected my whole attitude. There is such a palpable rage in the book that it seems like it just sucks you in and makes you furious too. Also, there is a bit of a language issue, because angry people don't really use the word "dadgum" and so forth, so I was having a little problem there too. Like when I was caught in traffic and immediately--IMMEDIATELY--I was just a raging loony. And though I didn't say anything out loud, I said a mouthful inside my head. It surprised me a little, how mad I got, and how quickly. So I'd spent a day or two just popping off at every little thing, and it wore me out.

(I told my family this the night of the concert. Later on, Joon said, "You have a run in your pantyhose," and I said, "Yeah, it happened right after I put them on," and my dad said, "Did it make you want to cuss?" And we all laughed, but ... it DID make me want to cuss, a little. And then later, we went to Starbucks and my dad bought some gingerbread cake and Joon's husband MJ ate all the frosting off the cake so when I went to get some, it was all frosting-free. Joon said, "Are you gonna get mad?" And I said, "Maybe," so she hustled MJ off to a safe place. That's how we deal with heavy emotion in my family: by making fun of people.)

Anyway, as we were waiting for the concert to begin, Joon and I looked out over the audience and talked about what people were wearing. For November, there were an awful lot of Christmas sweaters.

The concert began, and let me tell you this: you could add a cello or a tin whistle to just about any song and I will turn into a musical zombie. (in a good way) Like that guy Elaine dated on Seinfeld, who had to stare off into space every time "Desperado" came on? That is me with the orchestral and Irish music.

I've been to about seven million symphonies, and I'm not really an aural person, so it is hard for me to sit still and concentrate on the music. It wasn't all that hard for me this time, though. I did watch the flutes a lot--there were only three. Joon watched the clarinets--also three. The guy who played the tin whistle also played several different recorders (though I think they have other names) and that Irish thing that is like bagpipes, and then he played actual bagpipes too. It made me want to get out my own tin whistle and also my pan flute, which rubbed my lips raw the first time I played it but sounds really cool.

I love Christmas music. The symphony played selections from MWS' Christmas album, the all-music-no-voices one. (I'm finding that, since I've stopped playing in the orchestra, I cannot remember any musical terms. I have actually referred to a half-rest as, "You know, it has two beats? THAT one.") There were also some vocal selections, but the music was what had me pinned to my seat.

Sometimes I feel like that cello can just pull my soul out of my body. And the tin whistle can move me to tears. That night, I felt like my spirit was soothed, that the music just calmed me and moved through me, removing that inner rage. It was almost like a cleansing. (And I haven't wanted to cuss since!)

During the intermission, Joon and I invented a game: Spot the Christmas Sweater. We looked all around the stadium for any sort of holiday clothing. We did that for the entire twenty minutes. MJ was like, "WHAT are you doing?" and my mom said, "We never had a problem with them on road trips." I think I won, but Joon says she did. Next time, we're writing the score down. (Incidentally, the next day I was walking in the hallway and saw another teacher wearing a Christmas sweater. In my head, I went, "Aha! I've got one!" And then I went and emailed Joon. Nerd!)

I was in such a good mood that MWS' voice didn't bother me at all, and that is something of a miracle right there. Though maybe it is a message from God, that my voice is going to be all raspy like that, since I'm still not over the laryngitis quite yet. Well, maybe it will make me some money then.

Okay, so, my point is this: if Michael W. Smith is coming to a Metropolis near you this Christmas, you should go. It'll get you in the Christmas spirit, the kind that doesn't have anything to do with malls or salespeople.


Jennifer said...

Oh, my, I guess I'm a snob, too, because I feel the same way about MWS. His voice is perfect for the pop/rock he was doing when I was teenager, but on his more symphonic Christmas albums, it just sounds out of place. There was one with a boys choir, I think? And his voice just didn't stand up to the rest of the (beautiful, transcendent) music. I think his composing abilities outstrip what his voice can handle.

Cindy said...

MWS's two Christmas albums are among my favorites...they are Christmas-season staples for me...but I think even *he* realizes he's not a great vocalist.

A former co-worker of mine used to say Michael sounded constipated!

However, if you just accept it and go with the flow, the imperfections in his voice actually become kind of endearing. It's like, "Yeah, I know I'm not a great singer, but I'm having a great time with this!"

Mei said...

I didn't even consider the context of the music! It totally makes sense that his voice--which is very distinctive--would be more suited to the pop genre than classical. Well, now I just feel dumb.


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