On Sunday afternoon, I join Dave and Karen and Nicole for a concert at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in northwest Portland. Trinity Episcopal is certainly the most beautiful church I’ve ever seen: the towering red doors, the daunting narthex (that’s a new word for me), the vast nave, the towering pipe organ.
While we wait for the concert to begin, I eavesdrop on the two couples in front of me. They’re discussing The Lord of the Rings. “I loved the first movie, but I hated the second,” says one woman.
“Oh, I loved the second movie,” says the other woman.
“I hated it,” says the first woman. “Too many battles. The movie was just one battle after another.”
Quietly, the second woman says, “I loved the giant talking trees.”
I glance through the program. What’s this? Kari Brenneman is listed under the sopranos. I knew she was in a big Portland choir, but I hadn’t realized it was the Trinity Consort. Will her parents be here? Will John and Louse be here? Will Jeremy and Jennifer be here?
I look around, and sure enough, there are John and Louise. I walk over to talk with them. They, along with Carolyn and Judy (John’s sisters), have brought all of the young Gingerich/Brenneman cousins: Nicole, Andrew, Julian, Brooks, and others I’m unable to name (they occupy an entire pew). Andrew’s long hair has been put into dreadlocks. Nicole’s short hair has also been put into dreadlocks. Brooks’ hair is still in a gigantic afro. (What is with these Gingerich kids? I’ll have to get a photo of them this weekend.)
The concert itself, entitled “A Baroque Christmas at Trinity”, is lovely. Eric Milnes, the conductor, is an early music aficionado, and the pieces are performed on period instruments.
The first piece, Dialgoue between the Angels and the Shepherds of Judea on the Birth of the Lord is by Marc-Antoine Charpentier (1643-1704), a composer with whom I am unfamiliar. I particularly like the Latin text; even its English translation has a lovely poetry:
Tenor: Even as you avert your face, Lord, and disregard our tribulations.
Trio of the Just: Remember your covenant which you declared. Come from on high, and set us free.
Bass: Be comforted, daughter of Zion, why are you consumed with grief? Your King will come with mildness, you will not weep at all. And the pupil of your eye will be still. In that day the mountains shall drip sweetness, and the hills will flow with honey and milk. Be consoled, be comforted, daughter of Zion, and support God, your Savior.
Chorus: If you would only burst through the heavens, our redeemer, and descend. You heavens, drop dew from above and let the clouds rain down the just one. Let the earth be opened up and sprout forth a Saviour.And my favorite bit:
Chorus: Caeli aperti sunt, lux magna orta est, lux magna, lux terribilis! (The Heavens are opened, a great light appears, a great light, a terrible light!)
I quite like this first piece.
The next few pieces are purely instrumental, and while nice, they don’t hold my attention as well as a choral piece would. (I’ve always been more fond of choral pieces than purely instrumental pieces.) The nave is hot, and with the dulcet sounds of the orchestra, and my perpetual lack of sleep, I am drowsing off.
I try to stay awake by looking around at the cathedral. I look at the elaborate stained glass windows, each of which is inscribed with a line from the beatitudes. I look at the immense pipe organ which looms in the apse. (Is it the apse? I have trouble with terminology for elaborate church structures.) I look at the two rows of chandeliers which run the length of the cathedral, their lights perhaps meant to be almost like candle-light. I look at the slat-like construction of the ceiling. I look all around, absorbing the beauty of the church.
Still, it’s all I can do to keep from dozing.
The final piece is, thankfully, more choral music. Various individual bits from Johann Sebastian Bach have been combined into a Christmas Oratorio, and among these is one of my favorites, Break Forth, O Beauteous Heavenly Light, performed in the original German.
After the concert, the four of us walk up to Laslow’s Northwest for a bite to eat. I order the pork chop, and the waiter asks me how I’d like it prepared. I’ve never been asked that for pork before, so I choose medium, which turns out to be a mistake. The pork is delicious, but it’s too done. I ought to have ordered medium-rare. Don’t restaurants usually prepare pork as they best see fit?
On the way home, I stop at Home Depot to pick up molding and paint, etc. I walk into the store, and have only made it to the paint section when an employee announces the store is closing. I thought Home Depot was open 24 hours! (Seriously.) Not this one. Ah well — it’ll be nice to get to bed early for once.
(I do stop at Krispy Kreme for a donut and hot chocolate, though!)
On 15 December 2003 (12:14 PM),
On 15 December 2003 (01:47 PM),
On 15 December 2003 (01:51 PM),
On 15 December 2003 (02:37 PM),
On 15 December 2003 (02:49 PM),
On 15 December 2003 (03:32 PM),
On 15 December 2003 (03:40 PM),
On 15 December 2003 (04:06 PM),
On 15 December 2003 (05:01 PM),
On 15 December 2003 (05:23 PM),
On 15 December 2003 (05:25 PM),
On 15 December 2003 (08:28 PM),