Sunday, April 18, 2010
Life's Rich Pageant
Last night I had the privilege of attending the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra's performance of Beethoven's 9th, Ode to Joy.
Prior to the performance beginning, conductor Grant Cooper requested a moment of silence for the fallen Montcoal miners. It was one of the longer "moments" I've been a part of, and it was absolutely silent despite the dozens of people present.
The live performance of classical music is something timeless, unique, and awe inspiring; and the introduction of this particular symphony with a moment of shared grief was not ironic but somehow complete and fully human.
We've all read stories of people attending live music performances during intense and strange circumstances: bombings in London, occupations in France, under the eyes of Nazis, even the witnesses who speak of musicians performing as the Titanic went down to the depths of night and the loss of hundreds of lives.
We humans are a strange lot, and that's putting it mildly. But whenever I feel despair over how very dark and driven by evil our kind can be, I put my mind to this -- We spend years fashioning instruments to make exquisite sounds. We train our voices to express the richness and over the top joy and pain of human emotion. We come together to put our voices and instruments to the task of not only telling our story, but sharing it. And we come together to experience what cannot be said in words, but only played, and sung, and felt.
I don't go to the symphony to hear music. I go to be a part of something insanely gorgeous and strange. I'm thinking about season tickets.