Rehearsal tonight for this weekend's performance of Haydn's Mass in the Time of War. Dress rehearsal Saturday, with much time in between sure to be spent distractedly contemplating the balance between choir and orchestra and the relative ease or tension of the maestro's conducting.
I don't know what the program notes for Sunday's concert (3 pm, Most Holy Rosary Church in Syracuse) might hold, but given that this country is at war - five years on now; I let the anniversary pass without comment last month - I wonder whether the maestro might make a comment at the concert. There's no explicit message, whether pro- or anti-, in the text of the work - it sticks closely to the traditional Mass setting - but some conductors I've worked under would never pass up an opportunity for some sort of florid pronouncement.
For my part, and not merely the tenor line that I'm holding down, I think it fitting that the piece ends with the "Dona nobis pacem," with the phrase repeated again and again and again at a brisk pace (quarter note = 132). I imagine it as an mantra-like supplication, fervent, almost manic, but still joyous:
We say it again and again, perhaps with some hope of its fulfillment, however distant. That idea, along with the careful pauses and the delaying of the expected that I love about Haydn, makes singing this work a joy for me.