"Art is a collaboration between God and the artist,
and the less the artist does the better." - Andre Gide
I was delighted to finally catch a concert at the Frank Gehry designed Walt Disney Concert Hall the other day when my good friend Dan invited me to catch a piano concert by celebrated pianist Alfred Brendel.
It is a beautiful concert hall. Full of curved, wave-like
wood ceiling finishes
and shiny metal pipes bursting forth from the
built-in organ on one end of the hall.
The gleaming, majestic piano sat in the middle of the stage,
proudly lit in fiery orange-yellow lights. It sat there, silently
waiting for the pianist to come out on stage to caress its keys,
so that it could breathe new life into the Mozart, Beethoven and
Schumann pieces that were scheduled for the concert programme that night.
Alfred Brendel soon walked out on stage to loud applause and
the lights dimmed as he sat at the piano and began to masterfully
and delicately play.
He made that piano sing.
And as the notes from the piano dipped and flew,
a thought came to mind.
I thought about what St. Therese of Liseux had said about us being
mere instruments, about how we cannot take pride in ourselves as
instruments. For without a master to use us, what are we
but silent and unplayed, collecting dust in some hall.
If God is the pianist and we are his keys, ("Ebony and Ivory, live together in perfect harmony,side by side on my piano keyboard, oh Lord, why don't we?"- Stevie Wonder), then how beautiful we sound when we are all playing the notes of a wonderful chord together, in harmony.
How beautiful the sound of an instrument that yields to a masterful touch,where the keys are smooth, and don't stick or obstruct the fingers of the artist in any way.
How beautiful the song that is played, when the artistry of the master is facilitated by an instrument that doesn't hinder the artistry in any way, but sings fully with all the resonance with which it was made to sing.
Alfred Brendal weaved his way through all the sections of the sonata,
making the piano sometimes weep, and sometimes shout with joy.
Our lives, our histories are like songs. Like sonatas.
Just as a piano sonata has a structure and a song has a song form,
different musical sections are often needed to make the song
breathe with beautiful colour and contrast.
Major has to turn into minor, consonance to dissonance, short
to long,...just like the story of human existence and history;
nothing stays the same for too long.
Our history is pockmarked with the undulations of war and peace,
of harmony and dischord, and while we are in our own time,
singing the notes we have been given,
we have no clue as to how the whole piece will play out.
But just as every song has a beginning and an end,
I'm sure there will be an awesome modulation or key change at the end of time,
as the whole of creation will be awestruck
at how perfect the whole song shall be,
as how only God knows it will be.
Labels: instruments, Los Angeles