Together We Sing
It’s a beautiful autumn day, but I’m crying in the car. Not because the song is sad, though it touches me. Dan Forrest’s choral pieces always do. I’m hearing this one for the first time, “Entreat Me Not To Leave You.”
From unison to dissonance, first the women then the men join in a polyphonic repetition of the title text. Percussive “T’s” ricochet through the melodic threads in strident yearning. Never ask me to leave you, they insist.
The singers lean into the dissonance drawing me with them. That’s when the tears come. Not for myself, but for the loss of choral music with its visceral interpretation of life.
When I sing in ensemble, I hold on amidst the dissonance around me, never shying away, never sliding into unison to avoid the conflict. I lean into dissonance with confidence. The vibrations, like a stream of electricity, course through my body giving me a strength I don’t even want.
Now I know why I’m weeping. Choral music is crying out to me through the mist of pandemic. Persisting, swelling with passion, it presses on, climaxing, begging “Entreat me not to leave you.”
A breath of silence. Then gently the voices re-enter. Pianissimo. A new text is presented. As elegantly as the first dissonance arrived, the snarl of melodic threads unwinds and opens to a blissful consonance.
“Wherever you go, I will go and where you live, I will live.”
The lush melody floats on treble then moves to tenor and bass, exploding on a crescendo of emotion. Hope gushes from the score into my soul.
“Your people will be my people and your God, my God.”
I’m blanketed in the comfort of consonance but for some reason my tears increase. The music surges through me, filling me with a conviction like that of the early martyrs.
“Where you die, I will die.”
I’m heroic in its embrace.
I pull into my driveway on the reprise “Entreat me not to leave you.” I weep for all the young would-be singers who will never know how much they need choral music to guide them through life’s dissonance, show them the way to consonance. All those young people who would have discovered the power of ensemble singing in 2020 may not, because choral music isn’t available to them this year. I’m mourning their loss. I’m mourning their broken world.
Now, more than ever, we need the intrinsic wisdom of choral music—a wisdom that flows past our intellects directly into our souls. When we sing with others, we know we’re integral to the whole. We know the dissonance will resolve. In ensemble, we give the words power. We breathe together. We are one.
Someday we’ll sing again and when that time comes, I urge you to add your voice to the celebration. In the meantime, I invite you to hear what I heard, to feel what I felt—(Follow this link) the premiere of Dan Forrest’s “Entreat Me Not To Leave You” presented by the Salt Lake Vocal Artists.