The first classical music CD I remember listening to was a compilation of 50 of the “greatest classical masterpieces.” It was 2 CDs of classical works beginning with Mozart’s “Overture to the Marriage of Figaro.” I wore those CDs out. There was something thrilling about the subtle and sublime melodies juxtaposed against complex moving lines and unexpected, yet somehow familiar, harmonic progressions. And, over time, I realized these works were having conversations with me. They were telling about times of great joy and excitement. They were telling me stories of extreme sadness and longing. These works were comforting me during times of my life that were the most challenging. Each piece told a different story through a composer that was experiencing the joy and turmoil of life. And, they were beautiful. That was when I fell in love with classical music.
Fast-forward 8 years. I was a freshman biology major in college with an emphasis in veterinary medicine, and a huge void in my life. Being a veterinarian seemed like such a practical career choice. I was always good at the sciences, and I had a genuine curiosity in life that made me believe I would be successful in the science field. But, I discovered my life was lacking those beautiful melodies and driving harmonies that satisfied my creative personality. I was missing classical music.
In our lives, music provides moments of beauty in a world that can lack empathy. We live our daily lives moving from one routine task to another, constantly searching for moments of respite. And when we find them, we hold onto those moments, like cherished treasures.
Being a veterinarian seemed like such a practical career choice. But it wasn’t the right choice for me. See, I am blessed to be a part of something bigger than a career choice. When people ask me what I do for a living, I tell them I create music. Inevitably they ask, “but really, what do you do?” That is a moment I live for. I get to tell them that I create beautiful experiences for people. I provide the moments in life that make the challenging tasks bearable. I show people beauty when the world is at it’s ugliest. And, I give a voice to the emotions that lie just beneath the surface when the world is silent.
When I program concerts, I reach deep into my memories of those 50 classical works, and I have conversations with people through music. Together, we have conversations with people that depict the best and the worst of humanity. These conversations are unforgettable because they are honest. That is what Bach, Handel, Haydn, and Mozart gave us. These great composers gave us moments of beauty and honesty in a world that can be exhausting.
Today, I am not asking you to listen closely for complex moving lines, or beautifully executed melodic motives. I don’t expect you to listen for elements of word painting or clever structures that would later define the music of the Classical era. Although all of these things exist, I would prefer that you listen to the simple beauty and elegance of the music. Listen with the ears of a young child who is experiencing this music for the first time. And, when you have let go of the preconceived notions you hold about this “kind of music,” let it tell you a story. The true beauty of music is that it is always honest. My wish for you is that you experience an emotional response from these works. And, I hope you leave with moments of beauty that you can hold onto in life.