We often take music for granted. It’s all around us in almost everything we do: in elevators, stores, the radio, behind TV and film sound, and in concerts by symphonies, rock bands, or country stars. We don’t think about it much – it’s just there, yet we all have favourite songs.
But when you get a chance to make music yourself, or to be part of a group that makes music, it is a magical lesson in cooperation and working together, making sounds bigger and more beautiful than any one person can make. That is why I love singing in a chorus or playing in an orchestra or band. All my life – through school and adulthood – I’ve played in bands and orchestras, and sung in choirs or other groups. I even toured Alberta and BC with a show group for more than a year when I was younger. I learned about how music is made, written, phrased, or sung. The words and melodies of certain songs create meaningful moments in our lives, and the rhythm gets into our souls.
Last fall, our Ed. Metro Chorus commissioned Allan Bevan, a Canadian composer, to write a work for chorus and orchestra based on the ideas and writing of English mystic William Blake. The world premiere of that work was performed April 15 at the Winspear. Performers included the Ed. Metro Chorus of over 120 voices, the Concordia University Orchestra, plus soloists, actors, and images Blake created. Timothy J. Anderson, a Boyle Street resident, was the actor reading the words of William Blake between parts we sang. These are not just words – they are life lessons from Blake, who was way ahead of his time. Timothy reminded us all what Blake wrote so eloquently – that we have choices in life. Blake says basically:
We have choices – both Good and Evil breathe the same air, so we must think about how we conduct our lives.
In this day and age when our world seems full of hate, disrespect, and greed, these words are an important idea to learn from music. Just to create music we must work together, cooperating and respecting each other. It is both powerful and wonderful to help change the world by making music, and to share it with the world.
Joanne McNeal is a McCauley resident who is retired and has been a musician all her life. After her grandson saw her play violin for the first time, he came running up to the stage and said “Grandma you’re famous!”