After a three day drive across the country, through Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri (loved the Ozarks), the southern tip of Illinois, Kentucky, and into Tennessee, I set up a 20 foot trade show booth, finishing at midnight, for the League of American Orchestras annual Conference. The main event would be a night at the symphony with our gracious hosts, the people of Nashville Symphony.
It was extremely interesting that a spectacular performance of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana followed the tender and movingly spiritual Heichalos, or Symphony No. 4 by Baltimore-based composer, Jonathan Leshnoff. His symphony takes the listener through seven rooms of meditation on God, described in an ancient Jewish text, in the hope of communion with the Divine. This 22 minute symphony was transportive and a faith-inspiring salve, and sacramental once shared with a rapt and attentive gathering of souls.
I was constantly entranced by conductor, Maestro Giancarlo Guerrero. He was simply beautiful. The beat and rhythms were always defined and crisp, but he danced with organic grace as he moved expressively, both inviting and commanding every heart in the unspeakably stunning Schermerhorn Concert Hall to follow him. The Schermerhorn glowed as if lit by candles and it was more cathedral than concert hall.
Nashville Symphony Chorus filled yonder seats while their sheet music and the white of button-up shirts glowed an eerie blue. The choir had the rush of wind flowing over a mountain ridge, and was precisely unified. The soloists rang in rich vibrato, and with feminine power and appeal. Nashville Ballet, slightly above the stage plane of the Symphony, translated Carmina Burana into a religious and sensual filling of all of the senses. The dance was mesmerizing, and simultaneously worshipful and erotic. There was no air that had not been breathed by dancer or musician, and then rebreathed by every patron, nor particle that had gone untouched by a yellow globe of flying light. It was a night of supplication to higher lights for greater meaning, in rebellion against the materially and spiritually mundane.
Also amazing, but in a completely different way, was an experience I had outside of the hall once the concert was over. At the four-corner interescetion a host of people waited on every corner to cross the street while cars had either a red or a green light. At once, all four corners gave the “WALK” sign and all the traffic lights turned red. People walked in their various directions for just enough time, and then the traffic lights went back to alternating red and green. I have lived in or visited so many towns or cities where pedestrian street crossing rules have tied up lines of cars forever. This was a beauty of creative thinking by somebody, as important as the idea of forming a line when physical competition for who should go first is undesirable. I hope I can do my little part to help this innovation of human organization to advance, and maybe in pedestrian-congested intersections everywhere, everyone will cross at once, then wait a few minutes to do it all again, and there will be a little more time to get on with what we meant to do when we set out.
The people of Nashville have been so friendly. Thank you.