Tuesday, July 21, 2009

New music

Church musicians often discuss the challenge of introducing new music to a congregation, and the worship and music committee is well aware of how often we do (or don't) sing every piece in the hymnal.

This week I was thinking about how contrary that is to our everyday lives. While everyone prefers some musical style to another, don't we all continue to seek out new musical experiences within those genres? Jazz musicians are always seeking the latest sound; the top 40 charts are new all the time; and musical theatre people search constantly for a new gem. This week, I found one in the new cast recording of "Next to Normal."

I mentioned the musical once before because of local-girl-made-good Alice Ripley's acceptance speech at the Tony Awards. The plot of the show is minimal: it's the story of a mentally ill woman's struggle with doctors, drugs, and treatments, as well as the strain it puts on her family and their troubled past. But its the character of this woman's daughter who has a beautiful song in Act I that describes perfectly the experience of being a musician (especially a teenage musician). It expresses the transcending nature of music, the power to lift our spirits, which is what makes it such a powerful part of any worship service:

Mozart was crazy.
But his music's not crazy,
It's balanced, it's nimble,
it's crystalline clear.

There's harmony logic,
You listen to these.
You don't hear his doubts,
Or his debts or disease.

You scan through the score,
And put fingers on keys,
And you play.
And everything else goes away.

And you play 'til it's perfect,
You play 'til you ache,
You play 'til the strings of your fingernails break.

And you know that it's just a sonata away,
And you play.
And everything else goes away.
Everything else goes away.

1 comment:

  1. I suspect we have all been so "in the moment" that we lose all track of time, troubles, and worries about the future. For some this is music, for others another activity when we ask where the time went. Maybe this is something we should seek more often, and see it as a gift from God when the burden of time is lifted from us.