Two thousand of us sang together in Disney Hall, joined by thousands more singing in five other California locations. Live-streamed! And recorded, so you can look & listen here -- till August 2.
Sharing this music, live, with the infinity of “the world” was a BIG feeling. A river of feeling. Like being in motion, in resonance -- as with most choral singing, but amplified. Having practiced for weeks on our own and with video tutorials, finally there we were! -- in the same space! With everyone's experience a mirror of mine.
A grad school professor here in Claremont famously writes about “flow.” Intense relaxed focus, when you're so absorbed in an activity that everything else is outside your awareness. At the BIG SING, I experienced this as gentle deepening -- a deep and wide spaciousness — like standing in a river. That flow, you gotta go with.
The very definition of “in concert” is together. Making music together, making a concerted effort, you listen, check back in with yourself, and aim to produce sound that matches the rest. Being yourself, sensing others around, coming back to yourself and adjusting your output.
The trauma healing work I practice uses exactly this kind of back-and-forth attention-with-intention. We sometimes work with trauma's stuckness by calling on a memory, or a feeling of being in "flow" -- happy, connected. We'll rock gently into that, then back to stuckness, and find the rhythm that's underneath. No effort. Going with it. And this gentle approach isn't limited to the therapy room.
I'm no diva; just an adequate musician. Since getting started with music lessons at age 5, I've kept a hand in music all these years, singing in choirs, accompanying on the piano. It wasn't for the health benefits, though they're significant (reduced stress, increased empathy, boost to immune system). Not for the accolades. Why?
Here's what another BIG SING participant wrote, just published in the Los Angeles Times.
I keep coming back to composer Moira Smiley's “Stand In That River” (2003), which she conducted in the Big Sing. Powerful in its waltz-time simplicity, it goes like this:
Come and stand in that river / C / C / C / F /
Current gentle and slow / C / C / Am / G7 /
Send your troubles down water / C / C / C / F /
Down on that water flow / C / F / C / C /
Let's go stand in that river. Together.