It was as we were circling for the second time somewhere over Goulbourn, waiting for the storms over Sydney to abate sufficiently for a safe landing, that the young lady in the seat next to me said, “Flying half-way around the world in under twenty four hours is an absolute miracle, but do you realise that none of the several million components of this plane can actually fly by themselves?”
Indeed, I thought, that is true. From the smallest individual components, such as screws and rivets, to the largest, such as aluminium spars and panels, not one can fly in its own right. Even the components made up of other components are flightless by themselves. The wing, which produces the lift to keep the plane in the air, is useless on its own, and an engine, powerful as it might be, will sit firmly on the ground until it is fitted to the rest of the airplane.
I was reminded of this exchange last night, particularly when we were rehearsing the fugue “In Gloria Dei Patris, Amen.” We each rehearsed our own part, which sounded OK, up to a point. Then pairs of voices sang together, and it felt a little bit more like music. But it was only when all four voices got together that Haydn’s intentions were met and the notes made sense, both musically and, with the words, artistically.
Just as the individual screws and rivets which hold a plane together seem trivial but are in fact fundamental to its successful operation, so each member of the Choir, however experienced or novice a singer they may be, is fundamental to delivering a quality performance of which the composer would be proud and which excites and enthralls our audiences. And what is more, unlike the inanimate rivets, screws and the like in the plane, we ourselves will derive huge satisfaction from playing our part in the Choir.