Heather is a member of a new community choir on the island and tonight, just before Christmas, is their first concert in the Anglican church which they have borrowed for this occasion. It is a large choir ( 60 people) and looks splendid on the risers in front of the altar and pipe organ. With this many members they could pack the church with relatives alone, but in fact the community as a whole comes out on several cold winter evenings like this to support not just this choir but another of similar size and several smaller ones. And that`s just choirs! It is a very lively place, this little island of ours.
I sit well back in the pews to get the full range of sound and as the program unfolds I begin to look carefully at the individuals singing there. Some are young or in mid-life, but many I recognize from thirty years ago who were here when we ourselves first arrived. Then they were in their twenties or thirties, now they are so grey, their faces set into the forms that tell of personalities and their life journeys. Others are more recent retirees from around the world determined to throw their enthusiasm into their new, and perhaps last, island home. The spotlights angle down onto faces that seem so vulnerable, caught up as they are in the singing. I am planning to take my photography into a study of people next year and already I am taking the first steps by focussing on personality, faces, and the angles of light that will bring all this to my camera`s lens.
It is interesting though, how all the elder faces are so beautiful. One would naturally look for it in the faces of youth, but here it is shining out of these lined faces much more powerfully than one would expect. Partly, it is the music that is transfiguring them, - they are the song they are singing - and partly too it is the sheer polishing, like rocks in a streambed, they have achieved as they slipped through the years. As we all, in the choir and in the audience, slide closer to the end of our lives we are beginning to be transformed, not “In a moment, in a twinkling of a eye”* but through the much more sure and steady progress of living through the joys and trials that fate has brought us or which we have struggled to achieve. We are all the singer and the song and this is a moment to remember.
* Handel`s ‘Messiah’.