Saturday, February 28, 2015

Many layers of sound

Last evening, we attended Mahler's ninth symphony, performed by the Nashville Symphony.  Before the performance, a lecture was offered to tell about the background of the composer, his mindset at the time, and the intricacies of this complicated piece of music.  The piece all works together down to the last few astonishing measures when there is no longer sound but an incredible silence resounding in the concert hall.

The orchestra was unusually large for this performance, and the instruments were placed in different arrangements for the blending of sounds.  The violas and cellos had changed places, the woodwinds dominated front and center, and two harps graced one side.  This was not a random placement of musicians, but designed for specific audio dynamics.

Before we entered the auditorium, I noticed a large photograph on the lobby wall of a group of people at the symphony in what was probably the 1950s.  I recognized the era by the number of women wearing hats. Front and center was a young girl wearing a dress with puff sleeves and a sash, slouching down in her seat with a reluctant look on her face as if she had been coerced into coming.

It was not me, but it could have been my younger self.  How many concerts did I endure through my growing up years?  The rehearsals, the recitals my mom performed on her violin, the performances in halls both small and large?  At the time, my mind wandered.  I counted people, instruments, even tiles on the ceiling to keep myself occupied.

But I listened.  The layers of sound, the intricacies of classical music, the merging of the individual instruments into a common pursuit, all worked its way into my ears and engraved my mind.  I did not appreciate it at the time. I am sorry, mom.  You gave me a gift, even if you made me do it.

Each of the musicians are directed by a single conductor, each part vital to the whole.  Each individual instrument has its own sound.  Every one is not just playing the same piece of music, not even just on the same page, but they are even coordinated on the same measure.  Different parts, different notes, but in the same key, bound in the same tempo, and the complexity pulled together by the conductor.

Just as a single musician cannot produce piece of that magnitude on his own, I cannot do life alone.  When things are easy, I may think I can, but I need direction and guidance and the emergence of many layers of meaning and purpose that can only come from a God who loves and leads and produces dimensions I don't even know can exist.

If all I hear is a simple melody, I have missed out immensely.

...for not by their own sword
       did they win the land,
nor did their own arm
       give them victory,
but Your right hand and Your arm,
and the light of Your countenance,
for You delighted in them.

                         Psalm 44.3

When my eyes are on Him,
God guides me in my day
   and gives me strength
          how to do it well.
His indwelling changes
    not only me,
    but the outcome.
Follow His hand,
know His strength in it,
and He will pull it together,
     His purposes bearing the beauty.

No comments: