Last week I made my third visit to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.
Are you surprised that someone who hosts a baroque radio program would be interested in a Rock and Roll museum? Are you curious why a classical flutist with a music degree would care about the Beatles, the Stones, Prince and Eric Clapton, to name just a few? Or perhaps it makes perfect sense to you, based on your own musical tastes.
I heard a saying once — THE MORE YOU LOVE MUSIC, THE MORE MUSIC YOU LOVE. Unfortunately, I can’t find the original attribution, but it’s become my mantra. The older I get, the more I find myself appreciating the craft and artistry of talented musicians in all genres. Music is powerful. It affects our emotions, taps into our personal history and sense of nostalgia, and can connect us with important societal messages, and that’s true for ANY genre of music. Our brains (and hearts) don’t necessarily sort and categorize music the way record retailers do; the lines between genres is more ambiguous and (I think) based largely on our own learned biases, as well as our natural tendency to sort, define and label things.
One of my favorite exhibits at the Rock and Roll Hall is one that illustrates my theory of those blurred lines between genres, and exemplifies music’s inherent power. The exhibit celebrates the history of MTV videos. There are stacks of monitors featuring excerpts from iconic music videos spanning decades and popular musical genres. The big finale of the exhibit shows scenes from many of them flashing as one powerful, driving piece of music plays. That piece of music is (wait for it) … O FORTUNA from Carl Orff’s CARMINA BURANA! Seriously! Right there in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, blasting from the speakers, is one of the most iconic compositions of the “classical” music tradition, and it’s being used to illustrate the power and significance of MTV videos!
To me, that says it all.