A musician friend once joked that the definition of “highbrow” is hearing Rossini’s WILLIAM TELL OVERTURE and *not* thinking of The Lone Ranger. It’s meant to be a humorous observation, of course, and not a judgement. His joke popped into my head while listening to Maurice Ravel’s BOLERO recently. I was instantly transported back to my first job as a teenager working the box office at our local movie theater.
Although Mother’s Day is now past, it’s always a good time to thank and acknowledge moms who instill music in their children’s lives. Both my parents loved music, and they owned a substantial and somewhat eclectic collection of LPs (and some 78s!) they liked to play in the house.
During a dinner party I hosted recently, there was a selection of recorded music playing for background entertainment. Throughout the evening several of the guests noticed and commented on how much they enjoyed particular musical selections. Ever since, I’ve been trying to pinpoint what it was about those selections that caught people’s attention in such a positive way.
A musician friend has been augmenting her busy performing and traveling schedule with visits to a prison to perform for the inmates. She plays classical music for these men, some of whom have never listened to this music in their lives. They are more than just receptive to this special treat of live classical music performances– they become hungry and eager for it, and in some cases they quickly develop a deep appreciation and passion for this music.
Some of the holiest of religious holidays overlapped this year – the Jewish observance of Passover began one day after the Christian celebration of Palm Sunday and continues just past Easter Sunday. A lot of the music on Sunday Baroque is religious because the musicians in the baroque era often worked for the church, but our weekly musical gathering is ecumenical and inclusive. It’s a celebration of the MUSIC, and I hope each listener is nurtured and uplifted in a personal and meaningful way, whatever that may be.
Last week, I had the pleasure of spending several days in Austin, Texas helping KMFA radio station celebrate its 50th anniversary. That’s a rare and wonderful milestone for any radio station, and it’s extraordinary for one with a classical music format.
While attending a chamber music concert today, I noticed how well everyone in the audience seemed to understand the “rule” of not clapping between movements. And while this was clearly a knowledgeable and attentive group of veteran concertgoers, it also reminded me of something a wise friend once said: he loves hearing people clap at the “wrong” time during concerts because it means someone new is attending!
I recently organized a benefit concert for a non-profit agency that provides free tutoring to adults who need help improving their literacy skills. An array of friends donated their time and energy: musicians shared their talents, other friends rolled up their sleeves and gathered raffle items, designed and printed the programs, hosted a lavish post-concert reception, and provided muscle power to set up and break down the chairs and tables.
All across North America, musicians, ensembles, publications, broadcasters and music lovers are celebrating Early Music Month throughout March. There is plenty to celebrate! Thanks to decades of renewed interest in baroque and early music, there are many terrific musicians with expertise and sensitivity for the repertory, and the level of performing quality and scholarly expertise has never been higher.
Last week I was rehearsing for an upcoming concert with two other musicians, one of whom is not only a fine pianist but also a cardiac surgeon. To accommodate her schedule, we rehearsed in the lobby of the hospital where there is a fine quality grand piano. It was purchased specifically to allow for these spontaneous musical encounters by patients, staff, and visitors.