When I was in high school I fell in love with the song “How Glory Goes” as sung by Audra McDonald on her CD by the same name. It was one of the first songs that touched me so deeply it made me cry, and it also inspired in me something new–a sense of purpose. After hearing this song I somehow new, deep inside, that I wanted to touch and inspire people in the same way that I had been touched and inspired. I knew that this was what I wanted to do with my life. (Side note: at that point I was drawn more to musical theater and it was only after spending a summer at Carnegie Mellon and getting blindingly bored from the music in musicals and then the following summer hearing Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time as a young artist at Tanglewood that I knew I wanted to be a classical musician.)
But, back to the song. “How Glory Goes” from the obscure musical Floyd Collins by Adam Guettel. It is based on the true story of cave explorer Floyd Collins, who died after he was trapped in a Sand Cave, and the media frenzy that ensued during the attempted rescue. The song is the last thing Collins says/sings before he dies. I loved the text and the music, as I said, when I was younger and didn’t know a whole lot. It affected me on some sort of primal level (as music often does). But now that I’ve lived a bit longer, been very close to death, wondered about life and existence in a way that one only can when one sees the light die from someone’s eyes… well, now I think the song is just damn incredible.
Hear more of Adam Guettel’s music, including new songs, at NYFOS’s Rodgers, Rodgers & Guettel on November 1 and 3, 2016 at Merkin Concert Hall at Kaufman Music Center. Single tickets go on sale July 1 (tomorrow!)