Here's a picture of me (as an achondroplastic, female dwarf) getting hooked into the Renaissance Chorus by hearing Josquin in a small church on Washington Square. It's from my current book, The Annotated Nose, which is fashioned on a Joel Meltzian hero — mixed with various other proponents of "the doctrine of excess".



         “Gotta get to a rehearsal.”75
         “What sort of rehearsal?” she wanted to know.
         “Hamilton Vocal Ensemble. Pretty terrific. A grad student in the music department pulled together a group of singers to do early music. Nice bunch. Pure voices. No vibrato. We’re working on a Josquin mass.”
         “What’s that?” Delia asked, her musical knowledge going back to Bach and no further.
         “A Josquin mass? Josquin des Pres? You don’t know him?”
         Delia blushed, an odd response, but appropriate to the moment.
         “Greatest composer of the Renaissance. ‘Swing and sway with Josquin des Pres’ — that’s our motto. Do you sing?”
         “Well, yes. I do.”
         “Soprano, alto? Probably alto, right?”
         “Can you sight sing? Just sing off a page?”
         “Yes. Pretty well.”
         “Well hey, maybe you should come by. Monday, Wednesday, Friday, twelve to one at the Chapel. Know where that is?”
         “Yes. My father teaches at the college. French.”
         “Who’s that?”
         “Dr. Robinson.”
         “Really? He’s terrific – at least I hear.”
         “He’s a great dad.”
         “I’ll bet. Wow, Charlie Robinson’s daughter…. So do you want to come? To Vocal Ensemble? See what it’s like?”
         “I’ll think about it. I’ve got a lot on my plate.”
         “OK, then. See you when I see you. Great to meet you.”
         The fact is that Delia’s plate had just been licked clean by a large Golden Retriever Shepherd and its master. And she spent the next several days — and nights — thinking about nothing but the latter. But did she have the courage to step in that direction? A week had passed. She had glimpsed him once when he and his Woody were leaving the green as she approached. She would not yell out, or run after. But when her father delivered a reminder-invite left for her in his departmental mailbox — that was too much to bear. On an early November afternoon, she pulled open the great white door to the Hamilton Chapel, and then the door into the sanctuary.
         This was the miracle. She had walked into the middle of a miracle — Et homo factus est.
         The central moment of the Nicene creed is the mystery of incarnation: Et incarnatus est de spiritu sancto, ex Maria virgine. And the center of the mystery, the miracle at the heart of all miracles, is evoked in the next line: et homo factus est, he was made man. Josquin had transcribed his heart-stopping awe at this event, calling a halt to his unmatched weavings in musical spacetime, and proceeding quietly, on contrapuntal tiptoe, as it were, to describe the mystery. It was much the way Delia entered the chapel — hesitant to presume or to intrude. The effect of Josquin’s awe on her own, of his tentative, breath-holding witness on hers, was staggering. She had never heard anything so beautiful in her entire life as the sounds that caressed her from those echoing walls. She groped her way into a pew, and dropped down onto the kneeler. From her hidden position, framed by wood and velvet, leaning her head against the hymnal, she absorbed the crucifixion, the death — and with a shock, the spirited resurrection. And with that ascension, she herself was pulled back from the deep and shot outward, an arrow of longing, toward the source of the sound. At the Amen, she scrambled herself up onto the pew until the rehearsal was over.
         “Delia!” Jens cried out, when he noticed her at the back. “Hey, you came! Have you been here long? What did you think?”
         What was she to say?
         “I came in when Mary gave birth to Jesus.”
         “Is that in there?”
         “Ex Maria virgine...
         “I don’t know Latin. But I guess, yeah, Mary, virgin...ok.”
         “You mean you sing this without knowing what it means?”
         “I only know how beautiful it is. Incredible. That’s enough for me.”

She could have left him then and there, before it even started. But she didn’t. Instead, she joined the chorus, and spent the next months of dog-walking sharing with him what she had gathered in twelve years at Catholic school, in her last two years of reflection, art history classes at the college, and her own studio work exploring religious and spiritual themes. He, in turn, shared with her his deep appreciation of early music, from chant to the most complex Flemish polyphony, and allowed her to glimpse yet another face of God in the world.76