Friday, July 15, 2011

Magical Music Moments

I have been silent on my blog for several days. The start of July is always a swirl of setting stages and packing up percussion gear and attending holiday concerts. There is not much time to think, let alone collect my thoughts. Add to that the work schedule, some ongoing family matters with older family members, Sam being home (and in and out of the house), and Life in general, and it is no wonder that my pen (or keyboard) has been silent.

But in the last few days, I have experienced three magical music moments, reminding me of the power of music and family and community.

The first was a few nights ago, when Warren and I came home from our respective days at the office to find Sam and friends ensconced on the deck playing Magic and talking. Three of the four are musical, and there were guitars and one ukulele at hand. After the game concluded and the evening started coming on, the boys (the young men) reached for the instruments and started jamming. Old, new, folk, funk, improv: the notes spilled into the evening along with laughter and comments. One would start a line, look at another, and say "C sharp." A nod and other fingers would start to build on the melody.

I joined them all on the deck at some point in the evening. (Warren was at his board meeting.) The jamming went on, sometimes with singing, sometimes just the sweet sounds. Sam grinned at me and kept playing. At one point, when the other two took a break, he started playing an old Grateful Dead standard and we sang along in duet. He told me afterwards that he "really really liked that you are just hanging out with us--that is so cool." As far as I am concerned, that was worth the whole visit right there. 

After I shared the experience with my friend Margo, she commented "Last night on the deck sounds like one of those magical summer nights. Lucky you." Margo was right. Lucky me. It was magical and moments such as those have been all too rare with my mercurial son. I was grateful for every note that spilled into the air Monday night. 

The second magical moment was Warren and I just went to Columbus to the Ohio Theatre to see two Buster Keaton silent films. I have commented before about watching silent films at the Ohio Theatre and last night again featured the amazing Clark Wilson on the Mighty Morton. Buster Keaton is a longtime favorite of mine, so I would have enjoyed the night no matter what. But Clark Wilson is truly stunning, and after playing the entire film (plus a Keaton short before the feature length one), the audience rose to its feet for a long, sustained, and deserved standing ovation. Warren and I drove home the "slow route," which means meandering north on High Street through the various Columbus neighborhoods, listening to the chatter and music spill out of the restaurants into the warm night. We were both quiet on the way back; I was stilled wrapped in the music of the evening. 

The third, which happened just today and is still coming together as I type, reminded me (as if I needed it) that we are blessed to live in a town where the sense of community is powerful and that I am double blessed to witness it firsthand. And triply blessed to be married to Warren, who also has a strong sense of community both personally and as executive director of the Symphony.

My morning started with a Facebook message from my friend, Jessica, who put out a plea for help. A good friend of hers - a father, a grandfather, a husband - is dying of cancer. He is back home, spending his last days with his family and friends, living in the front room of the house where there is a large window to the world. Today is his wedding anniversary, the last he will celebrate with his wife.  Other friends are bringing over an anniversary meal. Was there any chance that somehow Warren could pull together an ensemble to appear tonight and serenade the couple?

I shared the note with Warren before we even sat down for breakfast. By the time he left for his office, his thoughts were already running to possibilities. In less than an hour, he had one of the musicians, the amazing Pam Beery, say "I will try to do this." Pam is a gifted flutist who plays in a local duo,  and she was already on the phone to her partner to make it happen. 

When Warren told Jessica what was coming together, and heard her thanks, he said (and I only imagine the quiet, comforting tone he used) that the mission of the Symphony is to engage the community through music. That often means thinking outside the box and reaching people where they are, not sitting back and expecting them to come to you. Jessica put on Facebook minutes later that she has "has a new and greater appreciation for musicians today!" 

Music is magic. It brings people together, it closes gaps, it strengthens and celebrates and comforts.  Somewhere in Delaware tonight a man and his wife are sharing their last anniversary together, and there will be music spilling into the evening, blessing them as they listen.


I had most of the story right. What I did not realize is that last night was not the couple's "real" anniversary, but a special anniversary planned (by friends) when during a recent medical crisis, the wife cried "I just want one more anniversary with him." 

The incomparable Pam Beery, along with her equally talented music partner, Bob Claymier, made the special anniversary all the more special with their playing. Our friend Brandon (Jessica's husband) caught a little of their performance on tape.


Anonymous said...

Very cool to see this come together so quickly. She had the idea late last night and asked me if I thought it was feasible. I thought it would be tough but sure enough they were able to pull it together. This family will be blown away by the gesture.

On an unrelated note, hearing the Morton at the Ohio is a unique experience. That sound really is "magical". We took Ben there a while back to an open house so that he could watch and hear sounds that many kids haven't heard.


Jenny Woolf said...

I love these three stories. Sometimes we forget that music is a means of communication as well as an art or an aesthetic pleasure. It's those things as well, of course. But it draws people together too. Wish I'd been able to hear the jamming session.

see you there! said...

Wonderful examples of how music can be present and important in our daily lives.

I really smiled when I read that you were acknowledged as a "cool" Mom. Thats a great compliment.


Terri said...

All three of these examples are lovely. We have collected instruments for years--hoping for an evening like you describe with Sam.

However, I found myself tearing up on the third story. And when I played the bit of video, the tears broke loose. I loved the song they chose to play.