Yes, it was cacophonous. The bass notes on the pianos and those of the trilling sopranos trumped many of the notes in between. The musicians competed for attention.
The song praises art’s ability to transport a listener from “gray hours” to “a better world.” I wandered through the concert watching the naked emotion on the singers’ faces. Was this the artifice of performance, or sincerity, or both? Listening to their pure, individual voices, and seeing them tire and lean against a wall, or sit and rest as they sang, I felt gratitude well up in me for their brave and good work, and that feeling mingled with the surges and retreats of the music itself.
The audience was not expected to stay for the full performance. I had to go after just under an hour, and I was sorry for it. The concert tested physical endurance and the aesthetic and emotional challenge of being present to the same song, over and over again. Four hours would be grueling, but to finish would be a high unlike any other.
Cate McQuaid can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.