Yesterday being Monday, the evening brought with it our online Parliament Choir rehearsal. We have been running these now for a while, and despite the need to work around some aspects of the technology they seem to have been more productive than we might have expected.
Twelve months ago, of course, Zoom was still an ice cream, but these days everybody is hopping on and off for chats and conferences and, yes, choir rehearsals, and I must admit that my initial trepidation, punctuated by the occasional brief disappearance into the ether when pressing the wrong button, has completely fallen away. Now it is as easy as, well, setting up a Zoom call, and I am sure that the day will come, if it is not already here, when we wonder how on earth we lived without it.
Watching filmed versions of the future it is quite amusing now to see how many of their realisations of the video phone remained static, as if the technology would never develop enough to be portable, so I think that we should maybe consign those images to brave but ultimately not quite correct projections of where we would have ended up, even if my favourite is still Charlton Heston smoking a cigarette in his space capsule at the start of Planet Of The Apes, because, as everybody knows, after a tough stint on the surface the first thing Aldrin and Armstrong did on their return to Eagle was to light up. Anyway, the future is clearly here.
The past does live on, however, and yesterday’s rehearsal trajectory took us through the Confiteor of the B minor Mass to the Et expecto resurrectionem mortuorum, which traverses inky chromaticism before breaking through to diatonic solidity. There is, as always, always with Bach, so much to admire there, so much to be inspired by and, simultaneously, find chastening.
Yet at moments like those I always come back to Johann the young man, who went away with the court on a journey and came back to find that his wife, Maria Barbara, had not only died but had also been buried in his absence. I wonder if they parted happily, or maybe argued on that last morning, or whether he had had to hurry out of the house with a promise to be back soon? I wonder also whether the memories of that loss lived quietly and deeply within him to inform the intense colours of the central section of that Confiteor movement, a message across the ether.