Last weekend we went to Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. We love the Berkshires, and listening to classical music at Tanglewood is one of the great pleasures of my life. Except for vocal music.
However, over the years, we have enjoyed watching Phyllis Curtin, a world-renown soprano, teach her Monday morning master classes at Tanglewood. On Sunday, we went to a three-hour concert of vocal pieces sung by her students in honor of her 90th birthday.
It was a long concert, and I dislike many of the composers whose songs they sang. But twenty or so of Phyllis' students participated in the concert, individually or in small groups, and every piece was perfect. Phyllis sat in a box near the stage, so small at age 90, her walker next to her, her arthritic hands clapping enthusiastically and throwing kisses. It was as if each song was sung only to her.
All of her students came on the stage together for the final song on the program, Aaron Copeland's "The Promise of Living". Their encore was "Happy Birthday".
It was a magnificent moment, and I wasn't the only one in tears.