Silencing the Sublime

Last night during a concert I had a moment where I felt like I was touching raw beauty. Those moments are so powerful and poignant that it is almost overwhelming. This time it was part of a Quad City Symphony performance of a work called “Musica Celestis” by composer Aaron Jay Kernis.

Kernis recently resigned from the Minnesota Orchestra where he was composer-in-residence, a cherished position in a precarious business. With the Minnesota lockout lasting longer than anyone could imagine, and the recent departure of the orchestra’s music director Vanska, Kernis probably jumped the sinking ship.

Last night I was moved to tears not only because the music was incredibly touching, an attempt to capture the heavens, but also because our audience was only two-thirds full. The program was wonderful, sporting a new work by Michael Torke, Benjamin Britten’s “Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra” and Brahms’ First Piano concerto.

I got teary imagining silence. Imagining the symphony orchestra as a dead beast.

Why are people afraid to be touched by beauty? To be moved? To be removed for 90 minutes from dread, doom and despair, and to interact with live musicians on a stage?

Symphony music is not a club, where you have to be a rich elite to understand and partake. It’s there for all of us to enjoy, and national grants bring music to school children, small communities and to you.

Imagine the silence. No music in movies. No music at weddings. Death to the sublime.

Do me a favor, and open your minds like these small, incredibly honest kids from Brazil did in this video. Sit back and be amazed. Support your local symphony by being brave enough to come listen. We don’t care if you don’t dress up or if you applaud at the wrong time. We are just thrilled to have an audience to share with, to make notes come off the page. Music is a sense, like taste, or smell. It’s impossible to put into words, so please just come experience it with us.


3 Replies to “Silencing the Sublime”

  1. Nice blog!!

    Did you see my Bach to Work video that UI made? I’m preaching a similar message! Enjoy the weekend… I’m doing the downtown mile run today… In the cold! 😀

    Sent from my iPhone

  2. Jack and I have been listening to a lot more classical music lately, and I think he would really love to check out a symphony performance (if we can find one that is suitable to a six-year-old’s attention span). Thanks for sharing this.

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