We went to the spring concert last night. I've been sick as a dog for over a week, and the concert was my first foray out of the house. In a departure from his usual crisp, high-energy, short program, last night's concert featured a local Community Wind Band which (according to their website) “is comprised of adult and high school musicians who enjoy playing intermediate to advanced wind band music.”
Frankly, this caused a bit of grumbling in the auditorium. It can be fun to watch one's own children on stage, but as any stage parent can tell you, any concert or recital of this nature also necessitates sitting through hours of squeaky missed notes, off-key singing and music chosen for its “ethnic diversity” rather than its merits. We were prepared for sitting through the performances of our children's peers, but importing a bunch of people who had nothing whatsoever to do with the school? I heard several complaints about that.
The wind band wasn't polished by any means, but all in all they weren't too bad. They were, in fact, just what they advertise – a motley collection of people aged about 18 – 75 who get together to play their instruments under the direction of a middle-school band teacher. Enthusiasts. Hobbyists. Amateurs.
After the intermission, our high-school music director came to the microphone to give a short spiel – something he often does while the band is setting up. He was rather more introspective than usual last night. He said that the kids in all of his classes were talking about Japan, what they've seen on TV about the survivors of the earthquakes and tsunamis, what they've heard about the nuclear reactors. He told us what he'd told them: amidst all the fear and worry, take a moment to realize how lucky you are to have the luxury to just sit, for a while. Sit, and listen to music.
The school band played then – a motley collection of people aged about 15 – 18, who get together to play their instruments under the direction of a high-school band teacher. There were a few squeaky missed notes, a couple of “oops!” moments, but all in all they weren't too bad.
Then the “adult” band, who had been waiting out of sight, walked onstage and seated themselves amongst the kids. Together, they played Brian Balmages' Moscow, 1941.
Together, they were incredible.
It may have been the antihistamine. It may have been the fact that for some reason I associate this piece of music with the Churchill quote, “Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” Whatever the reason, I had one of those moments of sudden clarity that you sometimes get – I realized I was witnessing a living, breathing metaphor.
Share your music. Teach your skills. Learn from one another. Help each other. Take a moment to sit quietly and listen to some music.
And be grateful.