At an early age, I discovered the transformative power of music. Growing up in a military household, we moved around quite often and, unfortunately, most of those transitions were very difficult. Starting a new life in a strange city every three years was fraught with anxiety.
My anchor through all of this was music. I learned to play the trumpet at an early age and regardless of how far back I was in a new school’s curriculum or how difficult it was for an introvert to adapt to a new social environment, playing in the school band and orchestra provided a safe space for me. It provided a foundation of confidence, connected me with like-minded kids and created a catalyst for integrating into my new community.
Years later, music would allow me to become the first person in my family to attend college. It would take me to the stages of Carnegie Hall and Symphony Hall in Boston. It afforded me an incredible year abroad studying at the famed Paris Conservatory. Music would take me to “The President’s Own” U.S. Marine Band in Washington, D.C., where I would meet my wife and start my family. Most recently, it brought me to Jacksonville.
Yet, the metamorphosis created by music that I’m most in awe of is its power to transform our minds. Many of us come into the concert hall with the weight of the world on our shoulders. Perhaps we had a bad week at work, had a spat with a loved one, or have a friend suffering through a particularly difficult time in their life. We may not even want to be there, dragged along by our partner or pained with guilt that we should be someplace else.
Then the house lights dim. The concertmaster tunes the orchestra. The conductor takes his or her place on the podium. The first sounds of 80 virtuoso musicians leave the stage. Sonority fills the hall and we are now a participant in what is an almost indescribable, multi-dimensional experience. And with all of this, we are immediately transported somewhere deep into our subconscious.
Are you in a place free of worry? Has some nostalgic moment long forgotten suddenly been triggered? What do you see? A first kiss, a baby’s cry, a child’s laugh, or the smile on the face of someone you haven’t seen in ages, and may not ever get to see again.
Perhaps you are transported to a place you once visited. A river in Germany, the coast of France, a villa in Italy, or perhaps you’re in a museum gallery, promenading to your favorite works of art, in a restaurant re-experiencing the best meal you’ve ever had.
Have you ventured to a place you can’t physically visit? Experiencing the Golden Age of Jazz in 1920s Chicago, joining King Arthur on his quest for the Holy Grail, following the yellow brick road to the Emerald City, accidentally stumbling into the Chamber of Secrets with Harry Potter, even exploring a galaxy far, far away.
Music is a journey and I invite you to join the Jacksonville Symphony this season as we explore our past, present, and future, our passions and curiosities, our world and beyond. For two hours, leave your worries behind, close your eyes, open your mind, and travel someplace where only you can go. We’ll provide the soundtrack for your journey, but where you go, what you do, and whom you are with is completely your choice.
Where will the music take you?
By Robert Massey is president and CEO of the Jacksonville Symphony
Posted with the kind permission of The Florida Times-Union