Monday, April 27, 2009

Music to my Humanity

Last night my incredible stake* choir had its annual spring concert.  They do this in conjunction with our county community band and I've got to tell you, it's quite an event.  Our choir is like the Mormon Tabernacle East and when you combine that with the instrumentation of a band with clarinets, drums, and what not, you get something really special.  My daughter jumped when those cymbols when off for the first time and then smiled with joy.  It was great.

We (and I probably mean "I" here) listen to far too much recorded music.  There is something about live music that stirs the soul.  And there is something about music that isn't created by people who are paid millions of dollars to do it, but is done as a labor of pure love by those people in your community.  As I listened to the music I couldn't help but think of the hours of selfless practice that went into every note.  And as the concert is free, the performers did this not expecting to get paid anything other than perhaps a quick, "Thank you, I enjoyed that so much" as they lugged their instruments out to their cars .  How many things are you given so completely? 

At the very end the band played "Stars and Stripes" and we all, at the directors request, clapped along.  It was fun for old and young alike.  I looked around at all of us clapping and realized that music can bring us together like nothing else.  Now, I won't tell you my church is the most diverse group in the world, but we're getting there.  In addition to people of European heritage we had many there of African-American and Asian heritage, not to mention a good smattering of people who are not now or never were from Utah. There were more Obama voters in that group than you might suspect. And there were a number of people there who were not of my faith at all.  But we were all clapping in unison.  

What else does that?  What else takes a large group of people with completely different backgrounds and opinions and compels them to do something, albeit very simple, together? It doesn't matter how different we are or how our opinions vary, the things that makes us the same are far greater than the things that make us different. Its who we are at our very root, before we are a particular race, or family, or religion. It's hardwired into us--music, rhythm, joy and we must respond. 

As the music industry gets bigger the performers seem to get younger and wear a lot less, I hope we don't lose our community music.  It could very easily go the way of the Mom and Pop stores as Walmart marches in.  If we lost it I think we'd lose something very valuable.  I think we'd lose the reason for music to begin with.

So for that reason I thank those singers and players for giving us more than pretty notes last night.  You strengthened our community and reminded us that we are all part of a family that embraces the whole earth.  We are human.  Sometimes that's just an excuse for not being perfect, but I think it also says that we care, that we try, and than we need each other.  And that's what we were all reminded of last night.  Thank you.

*Mormon Definition of Stake:  A group of congregations or "wards".   Think tent stake.  Isaiah 54:2:  Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations:  spare not, lengthen they cords, and strengthen thy stakes.