Comfort Food

Just a short post today – I know I’ve been a little quiet lately. Well, quiet on here, but very busy elsewhere. Time flies when you’re learning about rocks and singing Bach. (Not at the same time.) I had the most wonderful Bach-filled day yesterday: a six hour rehearsal for a concert I have coming up in a fortnight, followed by an incredible once-in-a-decade performance of the complete Bach Cello Suites which I went to at St John’s. I suspect I will write about the cello suites in a future post, but today I just want to share a simple but beautiful piece that it turns out has been lurking in my iTunes for several years. I probably listened to the whole CD when I first acquired it, but it was only recently that I was struck by the magic of this particular track.

I’ve written a couple of times here and here about the enjoyment that can be found in purposefully setting out to discover new music. I think it’s a really valuable and important thing to do (especially if you are a musician), because being exposed to the unfamiliar is how we broaden our tastes and influences, which in turn helps us grow. But I think I also need to acknowledge the flip side of that – sometimes what you really want is the comfortingly familiar, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that either. I was reminded a couple of weeks ago when I hit a short bout of illness that there are times when the body, mind and soul just crave simplicity, not challenge. I had the best of intentions for my next post (i.e. this one) to be Composer Date #2, but try as I might I couldn’t summon the energy or the right frame of mind for choosing a composer and exploring unknown musical territory. During the few days where I did nothing much except sleep, my body asked for comfort food, and so did my mind.

So I guess that’s how I would describe this piece, which is an arrangement of a traditional American song that I already knew well. There’s something rich and wholesome about this music, and there’s an innocence to it as well. It’s not pretentious and doesn’t try to be something it’s not – it just is. But it’s also not so simple that it has no substance; there are some beautiful chord progressions in there (1:50-2:00 is yummy), and I love the unassuming but nonetheless integral piano accompaniment. The warmth of that choral tone also seems to have divine healing properties – it certainly made me feel better, anyway, listening to it several times a day. The recording is from a group conducted by Tony Funk, an inspiring musician who I’ve worked with several times and have truckloads of respect for.

So this is my “comfort food” – my chicken soup, my hot buttered crumpets with honey, my jelly and custard with icecream. If you’re in need of some comfort as well, then I’d start right here. Do your soul a three minute favour.

What’s your musical “comfort food”? Please feel free to leave a comment and share something.

Oh, and I promise I’ll return to dating composers… soon…

About Bronwyn

Brisbane-based editor and choral musician
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