A note from Steve...
Steve Zocchi, Music Director
I recently heard an excerpt from an NPR interview with Cello legend Yo-Yo Ma. He was speaking to the purpose of music. His words sounded prophetic with a Bach Cello Suite playing in the background. “Music was invented” he said, “as all of culture was invented…by us, to help all of us figure out who we are; what the culture of ‘us’ is, and to start a conversation”. It got me thinking about the importance of music and other art as tools which help us create or maintain a civil society. It made me start to think about possible reasons for the pause in our civility at this time in history. I believe the gutting of music education funding in public schools had led to a sort of music-knowledge deprivation which allows people to expect less and less skill and discipline in their favorite musicians. I also think there is a correlation between a lack of musical education and the sense of disconnectedness people report to be feeling. When people are not taught that harmony exists due to acoustic phenomena understandable through science and strict study, they try to reinvent the wheel, so to speak, leading to music which ignores the laws of physics which govern our realities. The context of universality is lost. Only the lucky few get to attend well-funded music programs at their private schools from which they are quickly whisked away to countless enriching extracurricular activities including piano or violin lessons. Between rich and poor people there is a massive disparity in exposure to actual knowledge of our shared collective human musical achievements. If we all live in our own little musical bubbles (as we choose to do politically) then we lack those beautiful communal moments of total musical connection with others. What’s worse is that we make assumptions about others’ musical tastes because of our own biases based on class, race and age. The chasm grows larger.
I believe this is why Church music is so important. Church can be a weekly reminder of our musical connectedness; a sort of refresher-course in using harmony and melody together in a group. We share in our musical culture and bring to it our own abilities and personal experiences. We have hymns written in four-part harmony, the standard of harmonization we claim from the likes of Bach, which we use regularly. Some folks sing the tune; some folks sing in parts, but what is important is that we share the experience. For those who may prefer more modern styles we have songs which, while being more of our time, are still informed by our inherited musical awareness of the rules of harmony. And we borrow from other cultures occasionally as well. We are lucky to be afforded this experience. And I feel lucky every week to be part of the experience.
SAVE THE DATE… I am doing a piano concert at First Parish on Saturday March 16th at 4:00pm. It will be an eclectic and humorous evening, and the proceeds will be donated to HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society). More on this later.
Thank You all so much.
Your music director,