Sunday, December 21, 2008

Lift Up Your Voices

Last night, Michael and I enjoyed a night of symphony music and songs at the Palace Theatre here in Greensburg. It's a great old theater with murals painted in the style of Maxfield Parrish and burgundy brocade on the walls. Ancient box seats and an intimate stage space harken back to a more lavish age.

The seats, maroon plush, are quite small; also an indicator of life in a by-gone era. People were smaller then. Diminutive in fact, compared to us. And, I'm not talking about the unfortunate trend in our becoming a nation of Super-sized people thanks to fast food and other poor eating habits. People were simply smaller.

The smaller people of long ago looked forward to concerts and the symphony. These were part of the Social Season as it was often called in high society. It was a time to see and be seen as much as it was to take in the content of the event. A time for the community to come together and connect.

In a world that didn't know the hum of electronics, you had to be in the presence of musicians if you wanted to hear music. Changed forever now thanks to iPods, radios, televisions, Sirius Satellite, oh name get my idea. All these gizmos mean that you can listen to what you want, anytime you want, wherever you want. But, music is meant to be enjoyed with others as well as a singular activity. Now, we're pretty much singular in most of our activities. Sadly, dwindling attendance at the symphony and other events reflects our growing trend toward isolationism.

However, last night the hall was pretty full, the audience mostly proud parents and relatives of the All Star Choir. Proud, to the point of bursting their buttons, these attendants watched for their particular 'star' in the choir comprised of 18 Westmoreland County schools. Several members of each choral group were selected to represent their high school. What an achievement!

There they stood, crammed on risers, a rainbow of brightly colored choir robes. Quite a sight. And, sing they did. Well, in fact. Enjoyably well. They received thundering applause at the conclusion of the concert along with the Westmoreland Symphony who did a lovely job of entertaining us. I hope the applause rings in the kids' ears for a long time.

The concert was called, Home For The Holidays. Sweet and reminiscent of the hopes we all have. The guest conductor, who lives is Cambridge Mass and works at Harvard was, very much, home for the holidays. Channing Yu, grew up Monroeville and was in the Westmoreland Youth Symphony. Last night, he happily stood at the podium, baton in hand, as the conductor. Fabulous! His family was beaming as proudly as the families of the high school kids.

In an age when we too often hear the bad things that kids get involved in; the damage they can cause; the pain their actions and choices can create, I want to remember those standing there in colorful robes with their families in the audience. It takes energy and effort to live justly in an unjust world. I believe there are more youngsters like them than we know. We only hear about the ones who have lost their way; I prefer to concentrate on the ones who are on their way to good things and becoming solid members of our community.

Congratulations to all of them for making positive choices and to the families who should be proud of their investment in their children. And, to all the Symphony members, Mr. Yu, and the choir, thanks for bringing the gift for music to Greensburg last night.

Namaste' Till Next Time,

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