Day 55 Learning a lesson at the Symphony

My mother now lives in a Midwestern town near my brother and his wife who are musicians.  On a recent visit I attended a symphony concert in which they were performing.  In our ultra technological world this activity seemed like such a deliciously old fashioned thing to do. Something about getting dressed up to watch people make music made me feel like a character from Henry James or Edith Wharton.  It was splendid.  Sitting in the auditorium while strings, wood winds, and percussion combined to fill the space with Strauss and Tchaikovsky was remarkably refreshing.  The movement of the Conductor fascinated me, how delicate and massive gestures were matched by the musicians.  I surrendered to the passion and drama of the music.  For a time I was not checking my phone, preparing a homily or making a mental to do list, I was merely sitting and listening with complete absorption while sound and energy blasted through me.

I cannot help but wonder if that world is disappearing?  Will future generations be interested in funding such endeavors?  Obviously it costs dearly to pay for a symphony orchestra, a public library, a theatre company.  If I let myself, I could begin to panic at the thought of the vanishing arts and sciences.  And yet, they still exist.  Performances continue to be sponsored by generous donors, students are still attempting to master the cello and Shakespeare’s soliloquies are committed to memory.  When I make the effort, I can see there is still a world out there of music, drama and poetry if one is willing to participate.

Why all this anxiety about the arts?  Because in spite of how much I love technology (and believe me, I love it) technology can never replace the importance of people gathering to listen in silence to beautiful music or laugh together at the wit of Neil Simon.  The same dynamic camaraderie that happens at a ball game occurs when we focus our collective attention on the arts.  The inherent danger of technology is the isolation it encourages: the encroaching sensibility that we need not leave our cocoon of immediate gratification.  Would I have gone to the symphony if my family was not performing?  Probably not.  It might be boring, there will be inconveniences, I’m tired.  The excuses become a mountain too arduous to scale.  However, when we rouse ourselves and go to the concert, see the play, attend the reading, there is balm for the soul that is starving from malnutrition.   When we go, when we see, when we listen something happens inside that cannot be defined in words:  we are changed, we are warmed…..the beauty of the human journey can be revealed.

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4 Responses to Day 55 Learning a lesson at the Symphony




  2. Katy says:

    I love this post! Did we talk about the paper I did in grad school for my ‘Media Ecology’ class about music and technology? I will definitely have to find that and share it with you.

    “Beauty will save the world!”


  3. mcct says:

    Last Sunday I had the privilege of accompanying a high school vocalist auditioning for a college scholarship. I’ve played for her off and on for 10 years and it was thrilling to hear her gorgeous, mature soprano voice. We talked about her ambition to be a music major and a part of me wanted to say, “RUN! Don’t you know how difficult it is to be a musician? You are committing to a life of hard work and insecurities.”
    We recorded three stunningly beautiful pieces and, with the fading of the last notes, there was silence…complete silence. All of us in that studio looked up at this young artist with tears streaming down our faces. We were moved beyond any word and, in that moment I would have said, “GO! GO! GO! Bring beauty to the world!”

  4. Joan Scibetta says:

    Dear Father,

    When reading your post about your father dying, I felt sadness for you. He was a constant for you, and had both you and your brother’s best interests at heart. I am sorry, Father.

    I just can’t imagine your Mother without him. Remember when you told us about her response when you told her she would need to help others evacuate the plane in the event of an emergency (since you were sitting in the exit seats)? We are all such unique individuals, aren’t we?

    I am so glad that you have the time now to respond when people want an impromptu chat with you. You have found peace amid the responsibilities of your vocation. May I make a suggestion? Perhaps you already do this. Make your blog entries (or one or two) a feature of your parish bulletin. We would have known you so much better if we had read something like this every week. Many parishioners do not use the internet. And this would reach each of them. Your homilies helped us know you better because you usually prefaced them with a catchy story. But just to know that you liked a particular book-play-piece of music would have helped us connect, and enriched our lives.

    We miss you.

    Joan Scibetta

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