You know the academic year is back in force when some iota of time on Sundays is spend cajoling friends to come to Compline at Stanford. Regardless how persuasive I’ve been, when it gets to be 8:30 PM, I usually find some reason to drop what I’m doing to jump in the car and make it to the 9:00 PM Compline.
Yesterday, the brief half hour canonical office was sung by the Early Music Singers. The Early Music Singers sang Compline at Stanford several times last year – and their return was particularly appreciated. Alternating between austere plainchant and intricately woven polyphony, their voices filled the darkened Memorial Church, bringing the audience back to a point of focus.
Although this is liturgical music in a Christian setting, the beauty of the music transcends narrow religious limitations. After a year of doing Compline, I can honestly say I’ve never been disappointed. Admission is free, and the half hour spent in the darkened church listening to exquisite music puts a bookend on the week that is over. Despite the setting and the music, this doesn’t wreak of religiousity, but rather a quiet appreciation for voices engaging in a very old and very disciplined practice.
I’m looking forward to next week’s Compline – sung by the Palo Alto High School choir. They were truly exceptional last year, as their large choir had a power unlike most of the other Compline groups – and I trust they will be the same this year.
Compline is at 9:00 PM. This is one of the few times parking on the oval in front of Memorial Church is readily accessible. It is well worth checking out during the academic year.