Saturday, July 25, 2009

Are you familiar with the principle of sympathetic harmonics? It's when a vibrating object like a tuning fork or a string can cause a like object that is tuned similarly to vibrate as well, without touching it. Strike a tuning fork and hold it near another with the same pitch and the passive one will begin to hum.
If I understand it correctly, some musical instruments, like harps, have a set of special strings that will resonate harmonically with others.
Sometimes I feel like I have a metaphysical tuning fork inside me and when I hear certain music I can feel it responding.

I really responded to a new CD I have from the American Boychoir (new to me, at least) titled Litton Live, The Farewell Concert. It was recorded in 2001 at Princeton University and it’s pretty wonderful.

One of our most prominent choral conductors, James Litton was music director at the American Boychoir school for sixteen years. He had a professorship at Westminster Choir College and Princeton Theological Seminary and was also the organist and music director at St Bartholomew’s Church in New York City for thirteen years.

This was a big show with 106 alumni members returning to sing along with the 79 members of the class of 2001. More alums wanted to be part of the tribute but there wasn’t room for them all.
I’ve never said this before but I wept at times listening to this CD. I don’t mean misty or moist, I had water running down my face. Thank goodness I was home alone because it was embarrassing.

Many of the men are now professional singers and when all of them come together they have a rich powerful sound. When the boys voices join in they bring it to a majestic level. The harmonies are amazingly smooth and sometimes multiple voices will be so synchronized that they sound like one voice.

They open with a stunning performance of Introit-Requiem aeternam, Kyrie eleison from Requiem by Marurice Durufle. Other songs include Prayer of the Children by Kurt Bestor, Greig’s Brothers Sing On, and some African American Spirituals. Bruckner’s Locus Iste was especially sweet. In all, there are 73 minutes of music and I found myself paying attention through the whole thing.


  1. You should not be embarrassed by tears in your eyes. It is just your heart and soul truly feeling the music that your ears are hearing. It is a response that is magical and should be cherished. Not all have that ability. When you can let the music totally envelope you and become one with it, it is a wondrous feeling.

  2. Thanks Buck. It really does feel good to get caught up in something so beautiful that the rest of the world disappears for a moment.
    It happens to you too, I can tell.

  3. Yes, I am one of the lucky ones.

    Another album from the American Boychoir that can get you lost in the music is "Lullaby, Music For The Quiet Times". It was also recorded in 2002 as was the Litton album.

  4. I don't think I know that one but I'll look for it. I wish I could have all of the American Boychoir's music.
    Thanks Buck.