A few words that have been rattling around my head today.
Last night, I attended a friend's orchestral concert. The concert took place inside Holy Trinity Church, a 12th century chapel filled with beautiful carvings and stained glass. There's something very spiritual about listening to classical music inside a church, like the curved walls and ceilings were meant to echo with the bright and dark sounds of instruments in harmony and dissonance. It evoked another century, when people gathered in buildings and halls like this church to hold balls and dances and services. I also thought, during a song played by only wind instruments, of John Williams and Indiana Jones, of classical music and the pursuit of holy objects and powers. I love that music brings our eyes higher.
But my eyes were less drawn to the instruments of the orchestra than they were to the conductor. Maybe it's the spooky season of October or the impending Harry Potter marathons, but I couldn't help but think that he looked like he was weaving a magic spell with the movements of his baton. He kept everyone in perfect time while signaling when the music should shift and change course in both emotion and sound.
To be a great musician, you have to intimately know your piece of music, to memorize it so well that you connect to the emotion and energy inside the notes without thinking about what notes you're actually playing. I surmised that the conductor must know the music even more intimately than the musicians because he must be aware of every part, every note, every shift. The magic spell of the music is cast through passionate, staccato movements and soft, gentle waves. He is both dancer and conductor, magician and timekeeper for the orchestra, the only one in the room who knows the act of creating moments through the musical movements.
An hour and a half passed by quicker than I realized. The music swept me along on a journey. The conductor's prowess reminded me of writing fiction, of how intimately an author must know every part of the story in order to tell it well. Not all conductors compose the music they perform, but writers must create their worlds from nothing and weave together their magic spell of words for an audience. Imposter syndrome gets everybody at some point, but there's truly nothing like experiencing the live creation of a song or a story to inspire you to create your own. I think I should probably attend more orchestral concerts in churches.