Sanctuaries: The Many Moods of a Room

Sometimes we have to build our own sanctuary, not with our hands, but with our minds, a room we can access whenever life poses excessive challenges, those times when we need a break, a safe refuge. I chose to travel into another age: Vienna, 1783…

And into a single, but immense, room, on a Sunday afternoon. Its architecture? My version of Baroque. The entrance to this sanctuary consists of white double open doors, not far below a ceiling high enough to elevate the mind. I step into the room, wearing my fancy but comfortable crimson flats, and I feel the bounce and vibration below of hickory floors, bathing in the sunlight, and bouncing off white-washed walls, trimmed with gold leaf. The double windows are wide and open, and I can feel a fresh and gentle breeze fill the room with the scent of exotic Spring flowers.

I sink into the cushions of a plush couch, and with my eyes closed, I listen to a greater vibration fill the room, the sound of a fortepiano, direct from heaven, and with a light so intense, I can see it, though my eyes are closed. This light pours into Mozart, who will leave us in eight years, and whom we will mourn until the end of time, and I listen to him finish the unfinished Fantasia for Piano in D Minor. I am in heaven now, interrupted only by the footsteps of a young boy who walks through the door, and I cannot help but feel his joy, for he has wanted to be in the same room as Mozart, though he may not even know it yet, and I cannot resist opening my eyes, and I smile, for I have always wanted to meet this child, and it fills me with joy to embrace Beethoven.

Music for the Soul to Dance to

When I first awaken, I head to my tiny kitchen and fill my French Press with coffee and boiling water. I press beyond the water level, and although the instructions say to leave it there for 5 minutes before you press it to the bottom of cylinder, I rarely make it to the 5 minute threshold.

It is the moment between wakefulness and sleep, and I need a nudge to push me through that door. I sit by the window, sipping my coffee in darkness and wait for the eastern light to appear through my window. And with the glow and warmth of the nuggets a salt rock lamp creates, I press the key for the music to begin playing the music for the soul to dance to. This, for me, is a sacred and necessary ritual.

The list is long, but I begin with Threshold, as it takes me through the range of experiences, from high to low, and low to high, sometimes hitting the middle note, but not often. Within this range, I surrender to the trance, without the corresponding human experiences associated with this spectrum of emotions, through the nuances of each note, until I am closer to wakefulness.

Then I move into Mozart’s Fantasia in D Minor, K 397, for a taste of melancholy, which doesn’t quite satiate my appetite, but still, I cannot resist his movement, and prance with him into higher notes, guided by the nimble fingers of Gould’s interpretation.

And finally, Beethoven opens the door to a glorious version of flight. This, I am compelled to listen to more than once, for it loosens me from the stubborn chill of darkness, now moving into the first notes of dawn, whilst the night begins to fade, until it reaches a full eclipse of the black sky above me. And below the sun, I shift into the rhythm of a canter, absorbing endless rays of light. This, my friend, is Beethoven’s Piano Sonata #15 in D, Op. 28, “Pastoral” – 2, Andante.

Then I hit shuffle on a playlist, which I have named, Music for the Soul to Dance to. This list takes me through a historical journey expressed through music. The list below is according to recording artist.

However, before we advance into the set below, it is worth mentioning, this morning musical ritual is not rigid, but flexible. And so, some mornings, instead of adhering to the musical sequence noted above — patterns have shifted overnight, a new cycle has evolved, a new set of rhythms pound the keys. And so, I head straight to Bedbugs And Ballyhoos, for example, by Echo & The Bunnymen, and tumble and rock into a new day — for nothing is constant when you wake up dancing. 

Music For The Soul To Dance To
Let’s Stay Together, Take Me To The River, I’m Still in Love With You, I Can’t Get Next To You, Back Up Train, (Al Green)

Let The Good Times Roll, Thrill is Gone, Nobody Loves Me But My Mother, (B.B. King, Live At San Quentin, 1990)

No Reply, I’m A Loser, Baby’s In Black, Twist And Shout, Eleanor Rigby, When I’m Sixty-Four, (The Beatles, 1962-1967)

Blowin’ In The Wind, Forever Young, Things Have Changed, The Death of Emmitt Till, Desolation Row, (Bob Dylan, 1962…)

Is This Love, Get Up Stand Up, Stir It Up, I Shot The Sheriff, Jamming, (Bob Marley)

Know Your Rights, (The Clash)

Round Here, Raining In Baltimore, (Counting Crows)

Bedbugs And Ballyhoo, (Echo & The Bunnymen)

the boy with perpetual nervousness, moscow nights, (The Feelies)

Reach out I’ll be there, If I were a carpenter, It’s the same old song, I’m in a different world, Seven rooms of gloom, (The Four Tops)

Moon River, For Once in My Life, My Kind of Town, Fly Me To The Moon, It Was A Very Good Year, (Frank Sinatra)

Fire Coming Out Of The Monkey’s Head, (Gorillaz)

Night Train, (James Brown, Live at the Apollo, 1962)

Cry Baby, (Janis Joplin, 1973)

Manic Depression, (Jimi Hendrix)

Hurt, (Johnny Cash)

Joy Ride, Smile Like You Mean It, Somebody Told Me, Everything Will Be Alright, This River Is Wild, Why Do I Keep Counting?, Exitude, (The Killers, 2004-2008)

Bamboo Banga, Hussel, Mango Pickle Down Down River, Come Around, (M.I.A, Kala)

Leave Me Alone, Beat It, Billie Jean, (Guess who)

On The Run, Lingo With The Gringo, (OMC, How Bizarre, 1967)

(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay, Let Me Come On Home, Tramp (With Carla Thomas), Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out, (Otis Redding, The Dock Of The Bay, 1968)

Track 05, (Patti Smith, Horses)

I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles), (The Proclaimers, 1988)

I Never Came, Go With The Flow, (Queens Of The Stone Age, 2002-2005)

Oh, Pretty Woman, Only The Lonely, (Roy Orbison)

Send Me in My Way, Lost in a Crowd, Laugh as the Sun, (Rusted Root, When I Woke, 1994)

You Send Me, Sad Mood, Summertime, Twistin’ The Night Away, Shake, That’s Where It’s At, (Sam Cooke, 1957-1964)

Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood, (Santa Esmeralda)

All For You, (Sister Hazel, 1967)

Just My Imagination, I Wish It Would Rain, Cloud Nine, Run Away Child Running Wild, Papa Was A Rolling Stone, (The Temptations)

Moon Dance, Brown Eyed Girl, And It Stoned Me, Cleaning Windows, Whenever God Shines His Light, (Van Morrison)

One Headlight, (The Wallflowers)

Mozart Mass No. 15 in C major, "Die Kronungsmesse" KV 317 (1779)

Soprano Christine Castillo, Tanya Coyne, Alto, Ole Hass, Tenor, Mark Mason, Bass, Chevy Chase Presbyterian Church

What a way to spend a Sunday afternoon — unusually warm temps combing the November air and the heavenly sounds of Mozart — a divine combination.
Although I do not frequent churches, when my eye caught the sign planted on the Chevy Chase Presbyterian Church, “Free Mozart Concert, Sunday 4:00 PM,” the other day, I knew I would be going to church on this Sunday.  For how often, after all, does the opportunity arise to hear a fine Soprano, an Alto and a Tenor and a Bass, accompanied by an orchestra of strings, brass, and percussion, and backed by a chorus of around 50 or more Sopranos, Altos, Tenors and Basses — all in concert with St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, College Park?
Not very often.
But free?
Only in a church.
The church itself is beautiful.  The stained-glass windows are a feast for the palette, and the slabs of beautifully muted stones of many pale colors that form the foundation for the wooden, ark-shaped roof of the sanctuary, hosted at the front, not by a crucifix, but an organ whose immense pipes amplified vibrations that are not heard but felt by your total being, and demonstrated during the first piece, Concerto in G Minor by Josef Rheinberger (1839-1901) by the music director and organist, Julie Vidrick.  And all led by the subtle conducting of Dr. Dale Krider.
What a treat!
So now the hunt has begun.  I’m looking for churches that do concerts.  And I am more than willing to drop a couple of bucks in the bucket for a chance to taste the lilt of Mozart on the tip of my tongue.  Or Beethoven.  Or Handel.

Mozart Mass No. 15 in C major, “Die Kronungsmesse” KV 317 (1779)

Soprano Christine Castillo, Tanya Coyne, Alto, Ole Hass, Tenor, Mark Mason, Bass, Chevy Chase Presbyterian Church

What a way to spend a Sunday afternoon — unusually warm temps combing the November air and the heavenly sounds of Mozart — a divine combination.

Although I do not frequent churches, when my eye caught the sign planted on the Chevy Chase Presbyterian Church, “Free Mozart Concert, Sunday 4:00 PM,” the other day, I knew I would be going to church on this Sunday.  For how often, after all, does the opportunity arise to hear a fine Soprano, an Alto and a Tenor and a Bass, accompanied by an orchestra of strings, brass, and percussion, and backed by a chorus of around 50 or more Sopranos, Altos, Tenors and Basses — all in concert with St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, College Park?

Not very often.

But free?

Only in a church.

The church itself is beautiful.  The stained-glass windows are a feast for the palette, and the slabs of beautifully muted stones of many pale colors that form the foundation for the wooden, ark-shaped roof of the sanctuary, hosted at the front, not by a crucifix, but an organ whose immense pipes amplified vibrations that are not heard but felt by your total being, and demonstrated during the first piece, Concerto in G Minor by Josef Rheinberger (1839-1901) by the music director and organist, Julie Vidrick.  And all led by the subtle conducting of Dr. Dale Krider.

What a treat!

So now the hunt has begun.  I’m looking for churches that do concerts.  And I am more than willing to drop a couple of bucks in the bucket for a chance to taste the lilt of Mozart on the tip of my tongue.  Or Beethoven.  Or Handel.