Evening with Eric Whitacre

Photo by Jonathan Cohon Copyright 2014

Elisabeth, Eric, me, and Lisa–Photo by Jonathan Cohon Copyright 2014

10:30 last night I drove back home in the snow from an incredible event with Eric Whitacre. So far exceeded any unconscious expectations I might have had, I was flying. It’s hard to pin down exactly why we were so thoroughly buzzed after. Everything lined up so perfectly it was one of those rare times when I felt in exactly the right place at exactly the right time, entirely content.

To recap: The latest snow—in one of the snowiest winters ever—held off for the drive in. I did not get turned around in Evanston, (which happens to me often). Easy parking in a covered lot a block away. Welcomed by new Virtual Choir friends, Elisabeth (and Jonathan), Darrell (and Penna), and Lisa at The Celtic Knot Pub in Evanston, where the food was good and the company was awesome!


Elisabeth, Lisa, Penna, Darrell and me–Photo by Jonathan Cohon Copyright 2014

At the urging of Darrell Polka, I read the most recent of my Eric Whitacre-Virtual Choir inspired poems to the group (see below). We then walked over to the Alice Millar Chapel at Northwestern University just as the snow was beginning to accumulate. Lovely dusting and reasonably warm (for these days). Beautiful space. Got to hear Eric rehearsing the Apollo Chorus singing his piece, Lux Aurumque, a conducting master class. Transcendent! He talked us through some of his creative process with such humor and warmth. Excellent questions asked in the Q & A with such thoughtful, vulnerable, insightful answers. We even all got to sing a few bars of a piece he is working on and then hear Lux Aurumque in entirety. Just soaked right into me!

Then the meet and greet (maybe as many as 700 of us). Eric is one of those rare people who can captivate an audience and also fully connect with individuals. He focused on each of us in turn, gracious and generous. Responsive, receiving, and…well, genuine. His energy and enthusiasm is just so contagious! I delivered the three poems to him, got a CD signed and photos taken (by Jonathan). Talked a minute or so and some whirlwind hugs. Floating…

When I first heard about Eric Whitacre coming nearby, I was recovering from major abdominal surgery and felt too vulnerable to go out on my own, certainly not drive and walk out in the slippery snow! Even though I wanted to meet my local Virtual Choir friends in real life, I didn’t plan on going. At some point, I decided to stop thinking about whether to go or not and just see if it all came together. Get out of my own way. I emailed for a ticket and that was good. Emailed the restaurant and they got back to me in an hour (yes, they had a gluten-free menu, very accommodating). And that was good. Parking was nearby. That was good. The weather was manageable and most of all I recovered. Walking the few minutes, even in snow was a piece of cake. That was good. Reassuring. As I said to Elisabeth, it all worked out. My job was to let it. Have you ever had that experience when you let go and allowed your life to come together?

Here are the poems, part of the ongoing collection inspired by Eric Whitacre and Virtual Choir.


Eric Whitacre: Godzilla Eats Las Vegas
(with Elvises)

There is music
takes itself so serious
and then

there is music
without a serious bone
that can sink in

to the dark places
and lighten
lift out of

and up
soaring without risk
of falling back.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2013


Cracked Open After Louise Penny

While listening to Arvo Pärt Cantus in memoriam Benjamin Britten,
Proms, 2010 on YouTube—posted by Eric Whitacre on Facebook

Not about fixing
the irreparably broken
but creating

the newborn form
to take its place
in memoriam,

to allow, not push or defend
deliberate shoots that spring up
through soil

even if not particularly fertile,
and shoots can grow
into something novel

and bloom someday
into something as yet
merely envisioned…

To take the risk
as if…

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2013


Subset of Virtual Choir

spend precious hours
on a seasonal short song

to sing into a camera and send?
Naked it feels
to risk a public

of being less than…

The charismatic man
behind the tune
calling for the tribe,

offering a vision,
a chance to gather
even in competition

some, not all, will win. Why?
To open the door and get inside,
sync with the rhythm,

learn music from intent repetition
and deliver the song
to the green dot and beyond.

Why, again why?
Because to live
is to risk, is to stretch

is to grow, is to know
possibility of
contentment within

even virtual achievement.
To be connected,
not alone, to belong

through trials, through song
Innate in the genes, to be together,
though apparently separate.

For the inspiration,
follow the inclination,
why do anything,

hit a ball with a bat,
throw or jump or run,
pull a bow across strings,

stroke a key or blow into a tube,
riff on a guitar or beat a drum
is to express being…human

being with virtual friends.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2013

You may also like previous posts with poems inspired by Eric Whitacre and Virtual Choir

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2 thoughts on “Evening with Eric Whitacre

  1. Elisabeth

    And you forgot to mention that you were just inches from Eric through the entire evening!!! The energy…I’m still buzzing from it. I haven’t even begun to process the evening. Thank you for sharing your poems during our meet-up. It was wonderful to hear your voice read the words with your intent. And I’m glad for my little nudges to make sure you came. This was a night that will be forever etched in my memory. Letting go is key. I did this on my last trip home to see my family in Los Angeles this December and everything fell into place for the first time in years. Hugs!

  2. Margaret Dubay Mikus Post author

    So true, Elisabeth! Such energy radiating from Eric just two feet away from me for most of his talking. Not to mention bounding up on the stage, the music, etc. Amazing! I am glad you liked the poem reading. I wasn’t sure about doing it there, not wanting to disrupt the flow of all of us meeting, but Darrell encouraged me and that was all it took. I did not intend to give the poems to Eric at first (just post the link for him to read as before), but it seemed a good gift to give in person. He wrote on my CD: “For Margaret, my poetess, Thank you! Eric Whitacre.” So gracious. I am beyond grateful I went! And meeting you all felt like a beginning of something…we will see what develops. Also, thanks so much to Jonathan for taking photos. I made a deliberate decision not to bring my camera and just be very present. Another perfect thing that lined up! Hugs for you too! (And you got your snow, but not too early)

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