Black dresses and suits sat in poised perfection. The chatter that filled the earlier part of my day evaporated as I watched rosined bows become extensions of arms that slid seamlessly across strings. I imagined they knew every horsehair and each fray. The maestro contorted wildly. As my eyes closed I saw California Poppies blooming in elapsed time and a single raindrop burst into millions of tears. Each seat on the stage at Lake Tahoe SummerFest last Friday night held a story of sacrifice, struggle and success.
Sure, I held a violin under my chin briefly as a child. “She sounds like she’s torturing a cat,” I heard my parents say. They were right. This is another reason why I was simply awestruck by the sound that painted landscapes and evoked emotions.
Driving home from the performance, I laughed aloud to no one but myself, all of a sudden remembering when my dad took me and my daughters to see “Carmen” at the Metropolitan Opera. Her tiny tear-streaked face, Miranda, wailed, “I can’t believe she dies!” Nicole leaned over to her little sister, shaking her head from side-to-side, and pointed inside the program, “If you would have read this, you would have known.”
Classical music is often played in congested areas, such as train stations. It has a calming effect, some claim. Ian Cross, director of the Centre for Music and Science at Cambridge University, stated, “The bits of the brain below the cerebral cortex that are hot-wired to our senses detect potentially threatening stimuli and ready the body for action. That’s why if you hear a loud sound, you jump. Classical music generally – but not always – has a continuous, organized sound level, and so is less likely to activate that part of the brain in that way.”
On my way to the show I played some live Roger Waters. My iPod is a wild mix of Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, the Ramones, Joan Jett, Dinosaur Jr., Kanye West, Ani DiFranco, Roger Clyne, Traveling Wilburys, Pete Seeger, Weezer, Harry Connick, Jr. and Me First and the Gimme, Gimmes, among many others. I probably should listen to more classical music. It might help me avoid that “Robert Duvall in ‘Falling Down’ feeling.”
“Music is ... A higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy.” ― Ludwig van Beethoven