MUSIC AND CONNECTEDNESS
Secret of Music and Healing: Connectedness
No other art form brings us together so powerfully as music. It heals individuals and communities; it lifts the heart and soothes the spirit. It is the essence of connectedness.
NATIONAL MEMORIAL DAY CONCERT, MAY 25, 2014
Did you watch or attend the National Memorial Day concert on the Mall last night? It was the 25th anniversary of these occasions. I sat on the steps of the Capitol for the first three before I moved home to Boston.
This year’s concert was the most moving of all that I have watched. It was a living, breathing example of how music brings us together and soothes the traumatic memories of war and suffering. The presence of so many returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, the gold star mothers and their stories, the still living group of veterans from the Normandy invasion, the remembrances of Vietnam and Korea, made us one in mind and heart, if only for that short time.
Music has a long history in our armed forces, from the Revolutionary War to the present day. From the Fife and Drums to present day marching and concert bands, small instrumental groups and choral performers, each service uses music as a way to inspire, encourage, and heal its members.
Music is a powerful instrument of healing for individuals and communities. The Boston Marathon bombing was but one example of music helping the community to heal.
MUSIC AND THE BOSTON MARATHON BOMBING
A few days after the Boston Marathon Bombing, there was a poignant and powerful Interfaith ceremony in the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. I know the Cathedral well. The last place I taught before going to graduate school was Cathedral High School and the sophomore choral group was one assignment.
The ceremony brought together people of all faiths and all political beliefs to remember to sing, to listen. To cry and be healed. The Boston Children’s Choir and the Cathedral Concert Choir performed. President Obama spoke. One of the most powerful segments of the program was the great cellist Yo-Yo Ma playing the Bach Cello Suite No. 5 in E-Minor. Although he grew up in New York, Boston has been his home since his days as an undergraduate at Harvard. The first time I heard him play was at a small gathering in December of 1972, when he was a freshman and his genius at bringing people together through music was evident even then.
Yo-Yo Ma Playing the Cello
Courtesy of Carnegie Hall Archives
The power of music to bring people together in Boston is personified by the concert held on May 26, 2013, just a year ago today. The Empire State Sinfonia presented “Beethoven for Boston: A Memorial to Benefit the One Fund.” Boston and New York may be rivals to the end in baseball, but when one city is harmed, the other comes quickly to the rescue. Connectedness counts. Leonardo was right.