I recently had the chance to see one of my favourite paintings in person for the first time. I’ve seen endless copies of this particular painting since I was a kid; the particular gaze of the girl in painting, the light on her jewelry, the folds of her clothing – I thought I knew every inch of this painting.
But as I sat for a while and stared at her I realized that she was completely different than I’d ever imagined. Her gaze was the same as I’d seen in books and posters and copies, and the light seemed to dance across her face in the same way, but she was different. She sparkled. More precisely, the negative space around her wasn’t just darkness but rather it was darkness filled with the movement of light in the room in which I was standing. I wasn’t looking at a painting, I was inside the world the artist created.
This past weekend I was sitting in the audience at Knox as the SSO and Chorus performed our last concert of the season. I was feeling a sense of relief and gratitude that it was the perfect end for a very strong season. I was enjoying that the audience was so excited to be there, and enjoying the joy on the face of each and every chorus member as they got to sing their hearts out. And then it happened again. Along came Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus, a piece I have heard endless times in my life – and to be honest, I’ve never felt it was his best work. I’ve always felt it was a bit much…a great commercial pop hit from an artist who could write truly thrilling music. And played to death on radio and CDs. But faced with the piece performed by live chorus and orchestra, I was struck. It’s not just another “hit”, but a deeply personal and moving moment when Mozart places you right inside the world he created; its graceful and gentle, but deeply sincere. It’s exactly the sound Mozart had intended on creating for the listener.
The truth of the matter is, in 2019 we don’t have many moments in our day to day lives when our soul gets swept up in the moment. Between trying to Marie Kondo our way to happiness and snapchat filter our way to feeling good about ourselves, our day to day lives aren’t much to revel in. The realities of life don’t give us a natural pause. There is no natural cadence from stress in an ever connected world, and no ordinary distraction from how exhausted our schedules are making us. And while spending $3 on a mindfulness app might be the answer to all your worries, I strongly recommend making art and music a significant part of your life.
But there is no replacement for the real thing. Seeing copies of that painting for the rest of my life, I would have never realized how deeply the painting spoke to me. It was a great reminder to me that there is no substitute for an orchestra.
In my conversations with patrons this year I’ve heard about the music that really moved them – from a newer patron who found Mozart’s Requiem to be wonderfully intense, to the long time music lover who is still deeply moved by last season’s Armed Man. One thing became clear: the sound of hearing this music live was wholly different than listening to a recording. The sound of a live symphonic orchestra cannot be faked.
We have a few more days until the end of this year’s Share in the Future campaign. We set a lofty goal this year, and we’ve got about $40,000 to raise before the end of day on Friday to reach our goal of $300,000. This year’s campaign is special because if we are successful, we will have made the SSO deficit free. This is a remarkable accomplishment for any orchestra in 2019, but a significant achievement for Saskatoon’s orchestra.
This achievement would not be possible were it not for the exceptionally generous support of the Frank and Ellen Remai Foundation. The Remai Foundation’s matching of donations instantly doubles your support of your orchestra, and allows us to boldly enter a new era for your symphony.
Imagine only ever having the chance to hear recordings of orchestral music. It’s just not the same. A live symphony orchestra is a vast expanse of sound that captures the size and intensity of human expression. It can be as big as a prairie sky or as personal as a broken heart. It can bring you to your feet or move you to tears. It has the power to be the loudest sound you’ve ever heard or so soft that the entire room sits in silence to hear the next note. It’s an extraordinary experience.
I invite you to join me in making a donation to the Share in the Future campaign in these final days. It feels really good to be part of something this momentus for Saskatoon’s oldest arts organization, and it sends a clear message to the musicians of the SSO that their work is valued and supported by their community.
It’s true that without an orchestra in town, life would go on. But without the chance for future generations to come face to face with this glorious sound, they’ll never understand the power of a live orchestra.
I’m certain of this – because until the day I came face to face with that painting, I had no idea she sparkled.
Thank you for making music matter,
To make a gift to our Share in the Future campaign:
Call us at 306-665-6414
Visit us at the SSO offices – 602B 51st Street