Enough space for beautiful music
“In the natural rhythm of life, hope & lament can, in fact, exist simultaneously... Neither the sorrow nor happy times need to be in competition while existing within me.”
~ Patricia A. Taylor, anti-racist educator
After cycling through titles (“Teaching artistry," “Behind the scenes”), I’ve renamed this series, “How’s flute going?”
This week, my answer was, “Not going at all.” I’ve been too drained to practice — working extra shifts at my part-time job, going to Freedom Corner to support Dannielle Brown (today was day 40 of her hunger strike; last week was her living funeral service), & reading the news, such as the explosion in Beirut.
The world is in pain, and pain demands silence.
Yesterday, I couldn’t sleep because of a headache. So I thought of a few things: first, how my faith allows me to view suffering as an invitation into Christ's Passion. Second, the ending of Gustav Mahler’s "Das Lied von der Erde" — remembering those textures of sound, the ambivalent harmonies, was the most healing headspace I could conjure at the moment. Third, what I could record next for this blog.
With freelancing off-the-radar for now, this blog has become the main platform for my flute-playing. But sound takes up space, whether virtual or physical. In college, I wrote about this in my journal:
[My roommates'] voices, their occasional merriment seemed to violate my ability to grieve... How often this must happen in everyday spaces, among total strangers who don’t make eye contact, yet the sounds they make travel and collide with the invisible, powerless boundaries exuded by a person who craves to be alone, still, quiet.
Yesterday, while trying to fall asleep, I heard one of my housemates laughing. At first I tensed up, desperately craving silence. But the problem was my headache, not her laughter. Her laughter was so beautiful — like music.
Beautiful music won’t end Ms. Brown’s hunger strike, rebuild homes in Beirut, or secure a vaccine for the pandemic. Yet the more I encounter pain and its hunger for silence, the more powerfully I'm drawn to beauty.
Of course, flute playing can also be edgy, sparkling, groovy, & plenty of other qualities — but beauty, especially the potential for beauty in my sound, is what compels me to keep playing.
Today, I'm working on Jennifer Higdon's “blue cathedral,” dedicated to her late brother. I performed the piece with orchestra four years ago. This is all I can remember, but I love how simple it is.
I only planned to record "blue cathedral," but for fun, I started playing the ending of Katherine Hoover’s exuberant “Winter Spirits.”
For me, it’s a reminder that the world is wide enough for joy and sorrow, hope and lament, silence and music.