Music Transcends All Borders

June 26, 2012 James Knapp

How many times have you returned from an international concert tour with the feeling that music breaks down barriers? I can remember choir tours through Europe where the audiences ended up feeling like my next-door neighbor or a college friend—the connection was just that powerful. Music truly is the global language and possesses such immense healing powers.

My dear friend and Encore Tours client Tom Jaber, who was lucky enough to enjoy a musical performance tour through Spain, conducted the Houston Masterworks Chorus through Brahms' A German Requiem at Houston’s Symphony Hall. Following a very emotional musical experience accompanied by a very receptive audience, he shared this wonderful quote with me. It is a powerful testament to the power of music transcending all of the borders of human existence. The excerpt is from Ian McEwan’s book Saturday:

“There are these rare moments when musicians together touch something sweeter than they’ve ever found before in rehearsals or performance, beyond the merely collaborative or technically proficient, when their expression becomes as easy and graceful as friendship or love. This is when they give us a glimpse of what we might be, of our best selves, and of an impossible world in which you give everything you have to others, but lose nothing of yourself. Out in the real world there exist detailed plans, visionary projects for peaceable realms, all conflicts resolved, happiness for everyone, for evermirages for which people are prepared to die and kill. Christ’s kingdom on earth, the workers’ paradise, the ideal Islamic state. But only in music, and only on rare occasions, does the curtain actually lift on this dream of community, and it’s tantalizingly conjured, before fading away with the last notes.”

— Saturday by Ian McEwan

In my experience, these moments are rare, priceless and irreplaceable. May we cherish it each time it happens and recognize the privilege and responsibility that has been given to us as music makers.


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