Sunday, April 17, 2005

The Steinway

Music is the art of thinking with sounds - Jules Combarieu

A nine foot long, Steinway Concert Grand Piano, a full-sized pipe organ and two extraordinary keyboard artists provided two hours of joy and a rest from the ordinary. It was unbelievable. The arrangements of hymns, spirituals, patriotic hymns, camp songs, and classical pieces were amazing.

I have always believed that great music is the same as classical art. The painter can mix the colors and shapes to create a symphony or an opera that tells the story of a scene. So too, the musician can interpret a piece of music in such a way that you can "see" a picture in the sounds of the notes.

For example, today the artists played a series of variations on He's Got the Whole World in His Hands. Variation 1: The Tiny, Little Baby - Soft notes in the higher register with a smooth, soothing sound of a lullaby mixed with high tinkling sounds of a baby's musical rattle. Variation 2: All the Busy, Busy People - A faster tempo portraying the hustle and bustle of a city street, the organ sounds of taxi cab horns and rumbling trucks. Variation 3: The Thunder and the Lightening - Loud rolling and boiling crescendos in the bass mixed with the lightening staccato of chords in the higher range gave the feeling of a raging storm. Variation 4: The Little "Bitty" Creatures - The organ alone played in the mid to high range with light trills and triplet notes drew the picture of ladybugs, butterflies and small inch worms with a background of songbirds and the suggestion in one measure of a scurrying mouse. Variation 5: All My Joy - Moderately fast tempo with light airy tones and a little bit of a ragtime beat thrown in. This made you want to tap your toes and dance with happiness. Variation 6: All Our Sorrow - A switch to minor key, somber tone and inflection, and a slower meter drew the picture of a deep south funeral procession with the horse drawn black glassed in carriage followed by mourners on foot. Variation 7: The Whole Wide World - The finale, a mixture of upbeat tempo and reverberating notes to bring it all together, a bit of jazz tempo thrown in. Amazing!!!! It was genius! It felt like I had watched a Caravaggio or Botticelli work being created. They painted a picture in my mind with notes, sounds and tempo and this work of art produced in me emotions of joy, sadness, nostalgia, fear, and contentment, if only for a little while.

Bach gave us God's Word. Mozart gave us God's laughter. Beethoven gave us God's fire. God gave us Music that we might pray without words....Unknown

No comments: