During my junior year of college, I joined the campus choir. We spent much of the late fall and winter learning Bach’s B-Minor Mass. I spent hours listening to recordings of it during my campus copying and filing job. The more I listened to the intricate lines, and learned the little masterstrokes Bach placed in there, the more I loved it. But I was studying abroad in Australia that spring, and it turned out I needed to leave for their “fall” semester (spring in the US) about a week before the performance. So I didn’t get to sing the mass.
I think I imagined I’d get another chance. But none of the choirs I joined in New York after college performed it while I was a member. I had a bunch of children, and moved to Pennsylvania. After a fashion, I joined my church choir. We sang some other cool pieces, but not the B-Minor mass.
Then, last March, as the pandemic was crashing through everything, with rehearsals and church services suspended indefinitely, my choir director announced that we would sing the Bach B-Minor Mass the next spring. It would give us something to look forward to. So here I would be getting my chance, 21 years later, to finally sing this piece I’ve so enjoyed.
Except…here we are, just a few months out. The concert programming is canceled for the year. Barring incredibly unlikely switches in circumstances, we won’t be gathering with 70 singers on stage, belting out music and aerosolized particles, directing them at hundreds of folks sitting in an indoor concert hall.
So who knows when I will sing the Bach B-Minor mass. As I go deeper into my 40s, and think about the items on my bucket list, I start to ponder that I might never sing the B-Minor mass. I hope I will. Maybe 21 more years from now…? Though who knows, I could practice it and plan to sing it and get laryngitis ahead of that concert and miss it then too. Life is unknowable.
Sometimes we come up with reasonable substitutes. This past weekend was the rescheduled date of the Broad Street 10-mile race, originally scheduled for May. When it was postponed, I imagine people thought life would be different by October 4. This wound up being converted to a virtual race too. I ran my 10 miles and, honestly, I probably preferred running solo through the early October woods than sharing Broad Street with 30,000 of my closest friends.
But it’s hard to sing a mass virtually (Zoom is terrible for singing). I guess we just keep trying again.
In other news: We celebrated my daughter’s 9th birthday over the weekend. Between a French toast casserole for dinner (her choice), an ice cream cake, and donuts for breakfast today, there was a lot of sugar. I am hankering for something savory.