Thursday, November 20, 2008

It's happening again...

I can totally agree with those types who want to slow down the holiday season, to take time and savor a few shining events with loved ones rather than pack in a shindig a day like a girl scout on her way to her Domestic Overcommitment badge. I see the idea of orchestrated simplicity in my family life fly past on my way to reality every November or so. In fact every single month I get a couple of beautiful magazines packed with somebody's long-massaged idea about how to make every corner of my life a paradigm of organized loveliness. Your home represents you, your schedule displays what you value, the enlightened move calmly from moment to carefully cherished moment and you better too, they confide tastefully from within their manicured covers.

Zaniness at this time of year is just the way it is when you are a classical musician. Even folks who don't have much of a relationship with the great composers and all the variety of styles within the big C will recognize bits of the Messiah and think of the holidays. They make a tradition of going to a holiday concert, so we put on a bazillion concerts at the holidays. As a Christian I think it has something to do with people's inbuilt desire to be a part of creative endeavors and to celebrate something corporately. Of course if you really want to get into worship and music in popular culture, there's always rock.

I see another striking similarity between classical music and religion in that people like it for the ceremony. There is muted controversy there, some classical musicians bucking for a collective toss to the dumpster of their formal tails and fussy hall atmospheres. (I myself let it all hang out here whenever possible.) The entire relevant church movement (from the very earliest days to right this postmodern second) are in the same kind of battle between respecting tradition and finding modern immediacy in their expressions.

I had a little epiphany the other day at a bar watching some folks struggle through a very late Beethoven movement. It's THE Beethoven movement, actually. It is life and death, consonance and dissonance all wrapped up and knitted together with complex strands the way only Beethoven and little sonny Jesus ever could. Some members of this group had a tougher time than others and yes, there are moments in any performance of this nature where the listener is just hoping they make it through to the next phrase and get on with it. But as I sat there watching them help each other through and heard them come to more than one True thing.

Whatever you do this season, however busy you get, my advice is to cling to those odd moments when things are True and run with them. For me at this season, simplicity is a myth but Truth is everywhere.

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