Author: Brooks Firestone

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

ISBN: 10: 146 379 2867:  ISBN-13:  978 146 379 2862

                                                                A Story to Tell

“We all travel through our days, each in our way seeking grace from our pilgrimage and each having stories to tell”.- Brooks Firestone

The title of this book  “Evensong” is very appropriate.

It is the story of Brooks Firestone’s tryst with choral singing, some years after his retirement from a wine business and other time-engaging commitments in public life. As the author himself puts it, “This book is about the pleasure of an active life in one’s later years, how two older married characters enjoy new adventures in their mid- seventies, the joys of choral singing and the services of “Evensong” that ties all these themes together”. One could include the taste of good wine”, it appears several times in connection with the music soirees in this book.

The adventures with choral singing are not inconsiderable. The author and his English wife, Kate, who has a background in ballet dancing, relate some of the memorable incidents that hallmark their endeavour to exercise their passion of choral singing. Beginning with his family background and that of his wife’s, the author goes on to tell the story of how “this late-life passion seemed to find us”. He talks of his first audition for membership in the Santa Barbara Choral Society, the experience of singing in public, his struggle with the pronunciation of foreign words and how “he became part of the chorus,...merging my voice and persona with my neighbours...being a part of the musical whole...and the surrender of one’s voice to the common voice”. He mentions his experiences of learning music, his views on religion (Episcopal), choir singing for the purpose of fundraising and singing at prestigious institutions, both in the USA and abroad among others. A good many of the international institutions mentioned are in the UK (Kate’s home country), but mention is also made of choir singing at the Vatican, in Madrid, Spain, at Salzburg, Austria and Montreal, Canada, among others.

A good deal of the material in this book dwells on the different pieces of music that he made an acquaintance with, through his singing, prominent among them being Handel, Haydn and Verdi. The script is free flowing and one gets a glimpse into the life of a choral singer who enjoys a varied and rewarding life to the full, while pursuing his passion for music and yet, remaining out of the public eye.

This is a book to be savoured, a fast scan read will spoil the experience. It is a book  to be read, when you want to relax, curled up in your favourite sofa with a glass of wine (to heighten the ambience), as you learn of the goings-on and weigh the possibilities in life that a relatively anonymous choral singer can enjoy.  Not to underestimate the scholarly explanations and discourses on the pieces of classical music which fit seamlessly into the narrative. One learns also how the architectural design of famous churches is based on acoustic considerations and aimed at maximizing the effect of the choir singing.

This is a feel good book that will take you out of your own problems as you enter a different world, the world of choir singers. Read it, it will be worth the experience.

Warmly recommended.

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