I’m just home from the gym where I spent half of an hour on the treadmill, and half of an hour on the exercise bike.
Today I will spend probably upwards of eight hours looking at the screen of my laptop; much of that will be sending and receiving emails and conducting business through virtual conversations.
On my way to work I will tune into 90.1 on my FM dial, to WRTI, to listen to their “Classical Weekdays” program that usually sets me up for the day.
All of these activities are productive. And all of them are something less than real.
The treadmill isn’t really like running outside. And the bike stays in one place and the scenery doesn’t change.
Email is a wonderful convenience (you don’t really want to talk to me at 5 AM, do you?) and ZOOM has changed the way we manage our time and can conduct meetings when at a great distance from each other, but tone of voice, the subtlety of body language and the flow of conversation is lost.
Thank God for the radio. It keeps me entertained during my many hours in the car as I drive around our diocese. But it’s recorded. Programmed. Edited to fit in one hour slots.
Make it real.
Last night my husband and I attended the final concert of the summer music series of Market Square Concerts. Held at the Market Square Presbyterian Church, this chamber music series is in its 37th year. Some of the members of our diocese have served ably in producing this artistic offering- Anne Yellot of St. Stephen’s Cathedral was among its earliest board members and still an active supporter, and Truman Bullard, of St. John’s, Carlisle, currently serves as Vice Chairman of the board. The concert master of the Harrisburg Symphony, Peter Sirotin, serves as the Artistic Director and Ya-Ting Chang, concert pianist and spouse of Sirotin, serves as the Executive Director.
In short, the program last night was fantastic. The string quintet opened with a lively, playful and intricate polyphonic piece by Taneyev, and after a brief intermission, a second viola player joined the group and we heard Tchaikovsky’s String Sextet, Op. 70, “Souveniers de Florence.”
We were in the third row! We could not only hear every note, but we could see the facial expressions of the musicians as they maneuvered their way up and down the gliding, sometimes treacherous musical landscape; we could see the musicians look, intently at each other to keep together, in rhythm; we could hear the “sniff” of the lead player as he cued his musical partners on the downbeats. The music was real. Authentic. Alive. These pieces were created for us, right in front of us, in a way that they would never be heard again. While the next performance of these pieces by another chamber group, in some other distant place would play the same notes with the same instruments in the same time signature… what we heard last night was unique, alive and real. The momentary lingering at the top of a phrase by the first violin. The half smile of the ‘cellist as she plucked the playful pizzicato notes in the third movement of the Taneyev. The lock of hair that kept falling over the eye of the first viola player – she managed it beautifully during an especially fast run of sixteenth notes. And the dance of the musicians in their seats as they plied their instruments, coaxing the beautiful, lush, proud, pointed, delicate notes into a piece- a musical piece- just for us. It was real.
Behind us, there were about 75 children- middle school and high school music students- who were part of a summer music camp housed at Messiah College. They had come in for this event. Imagine how inspiring it must have been for these young people who do their time in the trenches laboring over scales and etudes, to hear this music, live. I was happy for them. They were rapt.
We’ll be back. For sure.
Last night was a good reminder that, in spite of life’s conveniences- treadmills to run on when the weather is rainy and sticky; email and tele-conferencing when colleagues are miles apart; and FM radio to keep me company on a long drive- in spite of these conveniences, it is important to participate in things in real time, and real space every once in a while. Run outside. Meet face to face. Go to a concert and sit in the third row.
I wonder how you get real, in the events of your daily comings and goings. Tell us, here, in the comments! And now, off to that tele-meeting…
(composed on Thursday, 26 July 2018 for posting on 27 July, 2018)