“A Pathway to Joy”

by Hannah the Zebra

This quote comes from an wonderful post by fellow blogger Su Leslie at Zimmerbitch, which is entitled “Pathways to Light.” She ends the post by posting a YouTube link (above), which is an excellent performance of John Rutter’s Requiem Aeternam. Leading in to this video, she writes,

The religious music of John Rutter embodies for me much that is truly good in humanity; a pathway to joy.”  ~Su Leslie

That sentence echoes deep within me, and is a perfect description of how I feel about John Rutter’s music. I have been privileged to perform many of John Rutter’s compositions, but the highlight for me came 6 or 7 years ago when one rehearsal we all walked in and found the score of his Gloria in our boxes. It’s a 20 minute piece, and at the time was by far the hardest piece we had ever performed. I seem to recall that we spent about 2 months learning it, and our musicianship grew tremendously in the process. The second movement, opening with only the men’s voices, is so beautiful that it almost broke my heart, even in that haltingly imperfect first reading. It is the kind of music that haunts me with it’s beauty, and I literally began to hear it in my dreams once we had been rehearsing it for awhile. It was then the kind of piece that is given to you occasionally in your performance life, that stretches your skill almost to the breaking point. The kind of piece that reaches inside and changes you. So that from that point forward, there becomes the way you sang before that piece, and the way you sang after. John Rutter’s Gloria became such a piece for me.

Gloria, by John Rutter:
(You have to click on the tiles on the screen after the first movement finishes (I Allegro) in order to listen to parts II and II. Be careful, as the tiles are not arranged in order. Listen especially to the second movement: II Andante. That is the movement that is the most ethereally beautiful.)