The most beautiful music

Music lived in our house when I was a child. It was as much a part of our family as our cat. More. If my sister wasn’t practicing the piano, Mom was playing hymns, or someone was placing a 78 rpm on the record player.

It followed us outside, too. I can’t remember a time when Dad wasn’t singing bass in the church choir or the men’s chorus in the community, usually both. My sister sang for several years in a select all-girl chorus that originated at Peabody. Singing has drawn me into its embrace since before my voice changed, when I was a pre-teen alto in children’s choir, and it continues today, through many years in musical theater, barbershop quartets and choruses, a madrigal ensemble, choruses performing major classical works, multiple church choirs, an a cappella chamber choir, and as vocalist with a large jazz band. Irresistible. I pray that it never stops.

Not all music is wonderful. Bad “music” forced on my unwilling ears offends me virtually every time I enter a store, and its assault on my senses prompts me to leave the premises as soon as possible. Could my age be influencing this negative response?

Supreme pleasure comes when one chooses music for listening. For years, I counted as my most joyful musical experience an evening in 1962 when I sat in a corner of the cavernous National Cathedral in Washington, DC, and heard the Cathedral Choral Society and Orchestra perform Beethoven’s towering Missa Solemnis in D. Since, singing the same work as part of a quality, 150-voice chorus has topped that memorable evening. So has singing Britten’s War Requiem, other requiems and great works by Mozart, Brahms, Bruckner, Mendelssohn, Duruflé and Verdi, and countless others. Life-changing.

But just last week, in a crowded clinic waiting room, The spontaneous, tinkling giggle of a child nearby rose with clarity above the dull murmur of conversation, evoking smiles. Immediately, I was thrust back to a time when our three daughters were small and their laughter as they played filled our home with sunshine.

The laughter of children is the most beautiful music in the world.

Today’s word: citizen. Nations confer citizenship. Towns, cities, counties and states do not. One living in our country is a citizen of the United States but a resident of his or her town, city, county and state.

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