Reflections on an Experience

I urge you to follow this link and play the song in a separate tab while reading the rest of this note…

I had an experience last night while sitting in the hotel restaurant/bar at the Scandic Umeå Plaza.


I was spending my last night in Umeå with friends, bringing to a close our four days at the Design Research Society’s (DRS) 2014 conference. DRS 2014, perhaps unbeknownst to other attendees, enjoyed a partial overlap with Umeå’s International Choir Festival.

At least two choirs were staying at the Scandic, and we marveled at their habit of returning to the hotel, presumably after a day full of performance and workshops, to continue celebrating their talent by singing in the hotel lobby for no reason other than the sheer joy of doing it.

Last night while we reminisced about our shared histories and speculated our imagined futures, we found ourselves right in the middle of the concert… and then something magical happened.

A second choir showed up.

It was not as big as the first, only eight members. But they had apparently made an impression because members of the first choir began prompting them to “Sing for us!”

After a brief huddle they began a haunting rendition of Eric Whitacre’s Sleep, which, if you indulged the archaism of this blog and followed the link at the beginning of this text, has been the soundtrack for your reading.

They made it halfway through the song, when all of a sudden a small pocket of singers from the first choir buried somewhere in crowd joined in. A vocal wave rushed through the room and the sound embraced everyone and everything.

All members of both choirs were singing.

The crescendo reached its peak and I felt the sensation of free-falling, an exhilaration and tension whose resolution waited in the silence following the coda.

I knew that I’d just had an experience in Dewey’s terms and that, perhaps as all experiences should be, it was profound.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s