Singing a Sacred Space: Performing the Verdi Requiem

It’s over. The totally amazing experience of learning and singing the Verdi Requiem is over. This past weekend’s three performances all went well, and were well received by small but enthusiastic audiences. Both of my recorder teachers attended; one said, “It was wonderful!” and the other said, “It was magic from the very first notes.” High praise from two consummate musicians.

Today, I feel triumphant. I succeeded at singing this immense and challenging work. When I started the chorus class in January I had no idea if I could still hear and learn and sing an alto line against competing soprano, tenor and bass voices. I didn’t know if I could remember anything about sight-singing, or if I could find a pitch, and then remember it in my mind and sing it later. Over the last three months I discovered that I can do all these things. Some skills are easier, some are more challenging, some are still developing, or perhaps re-emerging from my past. But I did it. I lifted my voice and heart in song, joined with these other hearts and voices, and sang the Verdi Requiem.

And the Requiem itself, to perform it? It as though Verdi wrote a prescription, that when followed by playing and singing this music, opens a portal to another dimension – a portal to the sacred, to what people call God. The barrier between our world and the other-world is thinned, a floodgate is opened, and divine light and energy pours through. Every time.

And so, performing stops being about the singing, stops being about the pitches and the rhythms and the entrances. Performing becomes the soloists and the chorus and the orchestra co-creating a portal to the divine by following Verdi’s roadmap, his instructions, his ritual that is the Requiem. Performing becomes being a part of invoking Verdi’s music, and touching, or being touched by God in the process. Performing becomes being filled with joy and wonder. Every time.


2 thoughts on “Singing a Sacred Space: Performing the Verdi Requiem

  1. Thin places! Exactly. Thrilling to be there, even more thrilling to be a part of the creative work. I am so glad for your experience, and so grateful you put it in lovely words.


    1. Thank you! I’ve been to places that the Celtic world would describe as thin places, but I never imagined that thin places could be created, and by singing, no less.


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