Tow Plane and Faure

So, I was early for my glider – flight instructor lesson. The morning felt cool and the winds were light, so I decided to meander around and see what hangars were open to peek into and who was doing what. There was always some one doing something interesting.

As I strolled along between the hangars, I heard very familiar notes. Someone, an excellent bari-tenor someone, was singing part of the Faure Requiem. I moved as silently as possible and eased closer. The manager of the soaring school was under one of the tow planes, looking at some things and wrapping up an oil change. He was singing a capella, and had no idea that anyone might be around.

A smart pilot would have coughed, or made a noise during one of the pauses. Not I. I eased closer, waited for the appropriate moment, and came in with the soprano line of the “Sanctus,” on pitch and in tempo. He continued for two more phrases before registering that he now had a soprano part that was not just playing between his ears.

The manager almost sat up, then remembered that there was a bright yellow airplane four inches above his head.

It was funny, an hour or so later.


17 thoughts on “Tow Plane and Faure

  1. A delightful story, so of course I went to AMZ to take a listen. Not to whatever part you were referring to (as I’d have no idea how to find it), but just part. I picked the Academy of St. Martin’s in the Field recording and the first 30-second sample of the first part sounded beautiful. Okay, so now you’ve twisted my left arm (so the right can be poised to click and buy)…any particular recording you’d recommend?



  2. Many years ago (seems I start a lot of posts that way theses days) I was working on an industrial construction site, Early one morning I hear a baritone beautifully sining a well known operatic aria (I no longer remember which one) in Italian. After listening for a few minutes I go around the corner to see the singer is the guy pumping out the Pota-Johns. The incongruity of the scene was unforgettable. When I got back to the office an mentioned it to my coworkers, the response was “Oh yeah, the ‘singing honey dipper.'” My initial reaction was why was someone with his obvious skill and talent doing that. On reflection I realized that he was probably making more money doing a literally crappy job, than he would as a starving opera singer.

  3. I’ve done that to pianists, but with the bass-baritone parts. Never fails to get a reaction, especially if the bass line is ff or better. I have that kind of power. I’ll sing Mendelssohn’s “Thanks be to God” for trail crews, on rainy days. “The waters gather, they rush along. They are lifting their voices.” Consternation.

    Fortunately it was a yellow aircraft. Who want to confuse him with the Verdi (green) Requiem?

    • I was attending a funeral mass (Episcopalian) for one of our local pilots (succumbed to old age). The organist was playing various somber preludes and I let my mind wander a bit. A familiar chord pattern began, and I inhaled to come in on the “In Paradisum.” Barely caught myself before the sound came out. That would have been exceedingly awkward.

      • I had to ruthlessly suppress one like that this summer. Part I of “Elijah” includes SA beating against TB to invoke Baal doe the third time. Very dramatic and filled with tension. The note rhythm was da-da-DAA-da.

        It appears in the third opera from Bayreuth, and in the 11 minute Nibelugenlied summary from Burbank, in “What’s Opera, Doc?”

        “Kill the wabbit, kill the wabbit…”

        I could NOT let attention wander.

          • I keep thinking that I’m going to use part of “What’s Opera, Doc” in class, but trying to slip it in is a challenge. Monty Python fits better (“Bring out your dead”)

          • Once upon a time, I worked nights at a post office and Sundays on the dock were slow… often just me and the Sunday/Holiday “expediter.” I’d asked if it was alright if I brought in a tape rather than listen to the usual Top 40 stuff. “Sure, go ahead.”

            Next weekend I had my tape:

            “What’s on it?”
            “Some Swing, some cartoon music, some classical.”
            “Awww, not classical!”
            “I said classical, NOT opera.”

            * time passes *

            * Classical plays *

            “Hey.. that IS cartoon music!”

            And one of the drivers, upon hearing Glenn Miller blasting out of the boombox, remarked it was about time we had some good music.

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