They made me cry tonight.
This evening I watched a concert. The Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra led by the brilliant young conductor Gustavo Dudamel, with guest pianist the great Herbie Hancock. The orchestra performed an all George Gershwin program of his An American in Paris, and Rhapsody in Blue. It took place at The Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.
The earliest music I can remember is Gershwin – either it was always on the radio, or my parents must have always had it on, as we called all record players at that time, the Victrola. As the strains of An American in Paris, played by this most marvelous orchestra, washed over me, I was immediately connected on a very visceral level to my childhood…to perhaps when I was in my crib. These melodies have always done this to me…they reside deep in my subconscious…they can bring tears to my eyes. I sat there listening, watching, tears rolling down my cheeks, and marveling that such beauty could actually come from such creatures as us. It was as if what was in front of me at that moment was all the possibility of human beings realized – the huge orchestra all together as one, in perfect harmony, making this joyful sound. I was completely overcome by it.
Now, minutes later, as I try to make sense of exactly why I was so moved, even more so than usual, I believe it was the clarity with which the beauty of this human moment stood in stark contrast to the reality of where we now find ourselves as a nation, and as a world. I had the thought that collectively as people we are okay, as separate factions we are not – John said it all in Imagine. I believe part of the reason for my tears was in experiencing – through this powerful musical ensemble playing this transformative music – the demonstrable gulf that lies between what humankind can achieve, and what, in reality, we are actually doing. The overpowering majesty of this man-made moment, this example of what is possible, this zenith of human potential, of humans unselfishly working together for a noble purpose, in this case to make this glorious music, is us at our very best.
That we cannot understand how great we are when we play together – that we cannot grasp the idea that, like a great symphony orchestra, when we work unselfishly as one for the common good of all, we are better for it, may be to our everlasting detriment. I hope not.
They made me cry tonight.
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