It’s a fall afternoon and pianist Brian Woods fills the small performance hall with soul-stirring classical music that beckons autumn leaves to dance and transports the audience to another time and place. For a brief magical time, we are lifted above our everyday lives and united in the joy and elegance of music.
The pianist from St. Louis ushered in the first of four concerts at our local cultural arts center, each of which I look forward to attending. I am no music expert; I just know how it makes me feel. Experiencing live music is different than listening to it at home or in the car. There’s something special about joining an audience of diverse people who come together specifically to experience the emotion and awe of a live performance.
In a world fraught with conflict and division, music can bring us together in a delightful way. This summer, my daughter and her husband took us to a popular piano bar after a baseball game at Wrigley Field in Chicago. People of all ages, sporting Cardinals and Cubs gear, belted out Elton John’s Benny and the Jets at the top of their lungs. If those die-hard rivals can put aside their differences to sing together, there is hope for harmony.
“Music has a great power for bringing people together,” said media mogul Ted Turner. “With so many forces in the world acting to drive wedges between people, it’s important to preserve those things that help us experience our common humanity.” Music genres can be diverse as people, but with an open mind, lovers of jazz or rock may discover they also enjoy Tchaikovsky and Beethoven.
Opportunities to experience live musical performances can be found at regional schools, churches, universities, libraries, bars and restaurants, and cultural centers like Cedarhurst Center for the Arts in my hometown.*
According to Americans for the Arts, there are many good reasons to support the arts, including boosting local economies, strengthening communities, and improving academic performance among students. The organization points to research that shows participation in the arts reduces depression and anxiety and increases life satisfaction. In the 1700s, Jean Paul Friedrich Richter said, “Music is the moonlight in the gloomy night of life.”
On the sunny afternoon the pianist swept his audience away with stunning musicianship and stage presence, I took a moment to notice the expressions on the faces around me and knew we were experiencing something significant. As composer Aaron Copeland said, “So long as the human spirit thrives on this planet, music in some living form will accompany and sustain it and give it expressive meaning.” §
“In the presence of great music we have no alternative but to live nobly.”
~ Sean O. Faolain
*If you are in southern Illinois, tickets for the 2022-2023 music series at Cedarhurst Center for the Arts are available online at cedarhurst.org/music-series/. This year’s line up includes a Brazilian father-daughter duo Oct. 15, a standards-singing trio in March, and a dynamic flutist, pianist and educator in April. You won’t be disappointed!
5 thoughts on “The Elegance of Live Music”
Beautifully described. You’re parents would love this writing.
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Dear Alicia, As a musician and opera singer on her way out of her shell, I can’t tell you how happy I am to have read this post! And as for you not being an expert… the more I’ve learned about music at the university, the more I’ve realized that in the end all that matters is the magic that makes us feel (like your wonderful art on this blog ❤) I hope you have a beautiful week! Noe ♪
Hello Alicia, As I read this post, Geoff and I are in Vienna for his work. Today we sat and listened to music in a Volksgarten in the city area – even these buskers were professional and true performers in their presentation and audience participation too. Surrounded by gorgeous trees and gardens, it was restful but also dynamic. Not only is there science showing us that trees are good for us, the music is too. Win/win.Tomorrow we will go to the Beethoven Museum as we both love music and we are, after all, in Vienna! I felt that I was with you in spirit as it is Autumn here too and I could easily imagine your experience of the live performance. You would love to people watch here Alicia. I sit and look at the older women on the trains and out walking. They are so elegant, so groomed, wearing simple, signature pieces – scarves, coats, blazers, simple make up and nails. I spoke to a young woman on the train today, admiring her handbag and she replied that it was expensive but timeless and she would have it for a long time. I enjoyed this post, as always.
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Hi Cate! You paint such a lovely picture of your travels. I have never been to Europe, but maybe someday. I would love the people-watching! Thank you for reading my blog and for sending me encouragement about my writing. I apologize for not keeping up with our email-pen-pal program. I’ve been chasing my tail it seems. I know it’s not very elegant, and I have promised myself to get it together as soon as I wrap up some loose ends around here. Enjoy your trip to Vienna, and please tell me more about the Beethoven Museum. Love, Alicia
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Don’t even stress at all about emailing me and being too busy with other things to get time to do that. I am not thinking anything bad of you and am just as occupied with daily life. I know only too well what ‘loose ends’ can do to the best laid plans! I will still be here when you have time again. Love, Cate