Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Music in Public Spaces

Nephew N, who lives in Plymouth, Michigan, posted on his Facebook page today:
So there are these construction workers outside my house singing opera. I'm honestly not sure whether to be more surprised at how cultured they are or how incredibly stupendous their singing is
My immediate response? I was jealous, that he got to enjoy such a magical, spontaneous, unexpected pleasure. At least he shared it with us, and I'm grateful for that.

His experience reminded me of a story Mom shared with us. She & Dad were in Italy - he was traveling on business, and Mom, finally, was traveling with him. She was sitting in a plaza one day, and watched as various workers came out to enjoy their lunches. An opera was playing (on big screens? small TVs? I'm vague on this detail), and the lunch crowd was watching.

What astonished and touched Mom was this: the workers were crying. "Those constructions workers were crying as they watched," she exclaimed. "They were moved by the music. Who would have thought...?"


We need more music that surprises us. Like Joshua Bell, playing in the subway.

Or flash mobs:

I remember once - years ago - attending a craft show with my mom. (I think it was in Sewickley, Pennsylvania, but who knows for sure.) Anyway, there was a trio of trumpeters, playing wonderfully clear notes; I imagined them cresting over the top of a hill. We listened for a bit; it was magic.

The Washington Post article about Joshua Bell quotes William Henry Davies (from his poem, Leisure), and I share their quote:
What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
When there is music to be heard, it's time to stand and stare and listen, time to be amazed and delighted.

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