The Open Ears Project - Episode Eight: On Catharsis
CLEMENCY BURTON HILL: This is the Open Ears Project, it’s day eight.
[Music - Nocturne No. 21 by Frederic Chopin ]
JAMIE BARTON: If you're having a day when you need to feel just, the most intense aural catharsis this piece is like emo teenager meets your heart on your sleeve.
My name is Jamie Barton. I am an opera singer and I also happen to be openly bisexual I have a side shave, I have purple hair, and I have a nose ring. So, not exactly the typical view of an opera singer.
And this is Chopin's Nocturne number 21 in C minor.
I grew up in the mountains in North Georgia, Northwest Georgia. I literally lived in a trailer against a mountain, really in the middle of nowhere, there's no cell reception, there's no Wi-Fi. There was no context for classical music whatsoever, so when I heard this, it was really just... It was like new discovery.
And somebody in my family gave me this CD called, and I am not joking, "Chopin and Champagne". And it was a compilation disc of a lot of different Chopin pieces. But I heard this particular piece, this Nocturne, and it just hooked me. It was the first piece of classical music that I just felt drawn to, you know, I'd just put it on repeat.
I didn't fit in with the rest of my community. But I had a very small group of friends. In many ways we were the queer kids. You know, we really linked up together and survived together and loved each other and that sort of thing. And they were confused, I think a little bit, by my slight obsession with classical music. But they were like, yeah… anything that is different from where we come from. that's any teenage rebellion's dream.
Nothing says teenage emo like a Chopin nocturne, you know, I could feel every emotion through this.
Even hearing this right now it transports me back into this bedroom that I had as a kid. Sitting in my bay window, overlooking the field, leading up to the forest. There's nothing else out there, it’s nothing but silence, except for this piano music.
This to me, speaks of longing. It speaks of love... Something very very deep in the soul.
The catharsis that I have felt listening to this is something that I think is universal and available to people no matter where they come from; if they have a link into this in any way, shape, or form it's there for everybody.
That was something very very powerful to a very lonely teenager and it still is in so many ways. But the memories that come along with this are now happy.
CBH: Jamie Barton choosing the Chopin Nocturne No.21. If you’ve missed any previous episodes you can hear them at openearsproject.org. If you like what we’re doing, please spread the word, tell your friends, subscribe to the podcast, consider giving us a review or a rating wherever you listen. We’re at openearsproject.org, and we’ll be back tomorrow.
"Nocturne No. 21 in C minor, Op. posth"
by Frédéric Chopin, performed by Eugene Mursky (courtesy of Naxos of America, inc.)
"Etude No. 2"
by Philip Glass, performed by Jeroen van Veen (courtesy of Naxos of America, Inc).