Today I played piano for a church Christmas choir. The song was O Holy Night which I have personal feelings toward. Kind of "tread carefully." Like, don't screw it up. Don't be careless with this one. Fortunately we had a person in charge who cared and made a point to treat the song well. We also had a cellist which is always, always a good idea. We had a few practices and they were good and got better. Then today, the choir stood and hugged the piano which made me feel cozy. And for the last verse, the conductor turned around and included all the worshippers. And that's when the song hit with full force. KAPOW. With the choir to my left, the audience to the right, the cello at my back and the director in front, I felt like I was in the belly of a beautiful beast. It was one of those moments when everyone subconsciously knew exactly what to do with the words and the song. Audience included. They did it right. It was shattering and glorious. The whole room shuddered. When I sat down, Sean, visibly shaken (so quite subtle in his Sean way, but noticeable by me) whispered to me, "what just happened???" I whispered back, "I don't know! Some kind of magic? I think magic happened." It was amazing.
After that I went to a friend's church and performed another O Holy Night. She texted me a week ago when i was not in town and was like, can you?? And I was like, let me think. I got home and texted her back, "Let's do it. I'm not going to write down any parts or have music, so if you're ok to do it fast and loose, so am i." So we met once in the week. I ended up bringing some music because it's helpful to have something to look at (for both of us) but she sang what she wanted and I played stuff not on the page. I hadn't quite worked out what I was doing so we just started messing around. We had the shape of something figured out and called it good. Today we met again really quick but I only had my lame piano at home so i knew it wasn't going to be great. But again, we called it good and crossed our fingers, me banking on the better piano I'd be using.
And then again, when we went to perform, we just did our thing. It was collaborative and somewhat impromptu. We did not know what would happen. She has this rich low voice so I'd balance it out up higher. She would go one way, I'd go the other. She varied the melody, taking on an alternative and I'd take it on the piano. She'd take it back and I'd leave and go somewhere else. There was a lot of torch taking and passing. It was awesome.
And those rare, indescribable magic moments are what I love about playing music with people.