Developing an appreciation for classical music
Monday, July 01, 2013 4:12 AM
If you would have told me five years ago I would soon enjoy listening to classical and choral music, I would have cranked up the classic rock to drown out your voice.
I grew up listening to what my parents listened to: soft rock, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, classic rock, country, etc. Whatever my mother had on the turntable or local radio stations was what I loved. It still gives me comfort to hear Mr. Mister on the FM. I never fully enjoyed country music, which is what my dad never stopped listening to. Today, I can handle country pre-2001 before it became country rock and turned away from its roots. Randy Travis. Yes.
From my brother I listened a little to hip-hop/pop; my oldest sister, alternative and indie; and my other sister, Christian rock/punk and Christian contemporary. I built up a tolerance for a wide variety of music, but I still loved the '70s and '80s more than anything else.
At that time, I thought classical music was only for cultured and sophisticated people to listen to as they drank champagne. As a pianist, I played this music frequently. I noticed it could both calm and stir the soul unlike the music I listened to over and over again. It didn't strike me in those days that I could actually enjoy classical music and all its intentional genius. All I looked for in music in those days were four chords. I was missing out. Now, I enjoyed attending concerts here and there, but I didn't seek classical music out for everyday entertainment.
I can't say exactly when I decided to give classical music a try, but I remember it was a struggle. It was different and I wasn't used to it, but for some reason I felt like I wanted to get to the point where I could sincerely enjoy classical music just as much as Tears for Fears.
Movies helped me out. I began paying closer attention to how I felt as the film's soundtrack played. Each time, I would inevitably realize how much the music enhanced my enjoyment of the movie and my perception of emotion within the story. In fact, even if I disliked the story, the soundtrack would endure in my memory. Who can forget the Star Wars, Indiana Jones or Harry Potter themes?
As I've discovered my love of classical music over the past several years, I have also begun to more fully realize the importance of sacred music or hymns. These usually simple chorales can be beautifully arranged into lush, orchestral pieces or simply sung by only a few people. What is remarkable about hymns is that the power of both the melody and lyrics can remain constant no matter how many violins or sopranos you have. However, I would say the lyrics are the most important part. These are what can stir a person to tears or calm the troubled heart.
I had the incredible blessing of witnessing the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the Orchestra at Temple Square at the Target Center on June 20. I had heard about the choir coming probably eight months ago, but the ticket prices seemed too high for me. I also thought I would be on my mission at that time, which would cause me to miss the concert. I really wanted to go, but hoped I would get to see them in the future. My surprise occurred at church when a member asked me if I wanted a ticket to go see the choir. I could hardly believe it and still couldn't when the choir stood up and sang the Welsh hymn "Guide Us, O Thou Great Jehovah."
Listening to the 300-plus member Tabernacle Choir sing live was a surreal experience. I felt the same way I often do when I see in person something I've only seen on television. Growing up, I rarely listened to choral music let alone the Tabernacle Choir. I became more familiar with the choir around the time I became a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Since that time, my appreciation for their dedication to sacred music has grown. My love for choral music in general has expanded rapidly. It is not uncommon for my eyes to get wet during especially powerful and meaningful performances, such as the Tabernacle Choir's performance of "Come, Thou Font of Every Blessing."
The choir performed 23 pieces ranging from classical masterpieces to Nigerian carols, American musicals to beloved hymns. The choir sang their signature closing hymn, "God Be With You Till We Meet Again," their announcer Lloyd Newell bid the crowd good night, and I returned home with a lighter heart. It was an evening that showed the best of what music can do for a person.
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir performs every week for the "Music and the Spoken Word" program, which has been running weekly for 85 years. You can listen to the choir on radio station KNXR 97.5 at 7:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on Sundays.