Last week, I had the pleasure of hearing two really great performers, Craig and Mary Bircher, give a recital in which they premiered a piece of mine. Craig and Mary play in the Omaha Symphony (he’s a trumpeter, and she’s a harpist), and they had commissioned this piece from me to celebrate their 25th anniversary.
The piece is called “The Fellowship of Love,” and I very deliberately wanted it to be about Craig and Mary and their relationship. So, the themes included their names “spelled” in musical notes (using the letters of note-names, and then continuing past G into other octaves to get the rest of the letters of the alphabet), and I also quoted the hymn “Blest Be the Tie That Binds” to introduce the idea of committment and relationship over time. However, one audience member’s elated e-mail about her experience of the music reminded me of what the piece was really all about, and affirms my faith in the ability of music to communicate a great depth of meaning:
“I love the new piece…it gave me many reflections…both thinking of the two of you and how expressive it was about your love and your marriage, and it also made me want to run right home and seduce [my husband]! It expresses the purity and intensity of first love or young love and then there is growth – maintaining the commitment and purity and also adding maturity…the themes expressed individual identity and also expressed unity, companionship, and how two people become one, entwined…like the twisting and turning of a spiral.”
I love these comments, not just because she liked the piece (every composer wants people to think their work is good!), but because she seems to have really absorbed thoughtfulness and passion from the performance, not just for herself but to share with those she loves.
Music is, after all, an act of love. It involves passion, committment, and the open sharing of one’s self. When we sing or play an instrument or write a melody, we are sharing a deep part of ouselves, perhaps the most true, most sensitive part of ourselves, with those around us, as a generous, intimate gift. We open our hearts, we make ourselves vulnerable, and we bring ourselves and those around us into a moment in which we are fully aware and can fully relish the beauty and joy of life.
Music is an act of love.