Music talks to us in many ways
By FR BRIAN WHELAN
Wednesday October 31 2012
THE WEXFORD Opera Festival got into full swing last week when the official opening took place on Wexford Quays, and the night sky lit up with the customary fireworks spectacular.
Music is, of course, at the heart of the festival and this year is no different, with the three main operas being accompanied by the usual fringe events and other concerts that will be performed over the 12 days of the festival.
There was a movie released in 2007, titled ‘August Rush‘, which tells the story of a young boy who lived in an orphanage and who leaves to try to find his parents. It’s a moving tale of love, hope, and joy, and if you haven’t seen it I highly recommend it.
The main character, a young boy named August, is a child prodigy â€“ a gifted musician even though he never played an instrument or learned to read music, but who in the course of the story goes on to write a symphony. The opening scene has a voiceover by August where he says: ‘Listen. Can you hear it? The music. I can hear it everywhere. In the wind… in the air… in the light. It’s all around us. All you have to do is open yourself up. All you have to do… is listen.’
I think music is everywhere. I think people listen to many different types of music and each of them gets something from it. Some people listen to music depending on their moods; some music brightens our day with we feel gloomy, some music captures the feelings of joy when we are having a happy moment, and some music simply speaks to us to reveal a message or a story.
No matter who we are, young or old, music can speak to us in different ways. The lyrics in our favourite song may speak to us more deeply than we even realise.
In many ways music is like poetry. Some of the music our young people listen might seem abhorrent to some older people, especially if they consider the lyrics and the meaning of the words contained therein. We might be even alarmed or concerned by some of the hateful messages contained in some songs that are produced nowadays.
But there are many examples of inspiring songs that appeal to the younger generations too. A popular recent hit by the band ‘Fun‘ is called ‘Some Nights’ and the first verse goes as follows: ‘Some nights, I stay up cashing in my bad luck. Some nights, I call it a draw. Some nights, I wish that my lips could build a castle. Some nights, I wish they’d just fall off. But I still wake up, I still see your ghost. Oh Lord, I’m still not sure what I stand for. Oh what do I stand for?’
It’s easy to see how this song would speak to young people who are trying to discover who they are and what life holds in store for them. The many different genres of music portray a variety of moods and emotions, and I suspect that each of us, if we’re being truly honest, have certain songs that speak to us very deeply too. So too at sad times, people get great consolation and comfort from music and songs.
As we head into November, the month when we remember our dead loved ones and pray for them, I think of a song that I’ve heard on many occasions which seems to give meaning both to death and bereavement. It’s a song called ‘The Rose‘ by Bette Midler and it speaks of love. The song explores the different things that people say love is for them. For some it’s a river, or a razor, or a hunger, but for the singer it’s a flower, and the loved one is it’s only seed. The end of the song says: ‘Just remember in the winter, Far beneath the bitter snows, Lies the seed that with the sun’s love, In the spring becomes the rose.’
That movie ‘August Rush’ has a line that, for me at least, sums up what music can mean: ‘You know what music is? God‘s little reminder that there’s something else besides us in this universe, a harmonic connection between all living beings, every where, even the stars.’
– FR BRIAN WHELAN