An early musical memory was my discovery of WABC New York, with Cousin Brucie on the radio when I was about 10. This was the heyday of groups like Three Dog Night’s “One,” The Cyrcle’s “Red Rubber Ball,” and Frankie Valli’s “See You in September.” My idol in those years was Dana MacDonald, the 20-something granddaughter of our next door neighbor in Normandy Beach, NJ. She tooled around in her own red convertible and was studying to be a nurse. Dana would hit the sand with her transistor radio, and my favorite songs would blare from her beach blanket. How cool was that?
I then discovered classical music and was immediately smitten. My love for the classics grew exponentially, eventually embracing the works of Mahler, Bruckner, Debussy, Ravel, and Bartok. When Steve and I hit the road with our six state, year and a half children’s theatre tour, we were armed with cassettes for the (many) times we were out of radio contact. Indeed, we labeled the oft-played Rachmaninoff’s second piano concerto “Theme from Tour.”
I continued on this path until 2005, when my undiagnosed bipolar disorder started to upend my life. Suddenly I was into pop music (indeed, anything that teens were into). Death Cab for Cutie, Franz Ferdinand. I not only played their songs endlessly, but I dragged my children to their concerts. My worst summer (2006) I retreated to my earbuds and my music, shutting out the world around me completely.
|On the beach with my iPod-- a low point|
Emerging from my madness, I found solace in new age music (George Winston, David Lanz, Liz Story). Their songs were a psychic band-aid for my mental wounds, soothing, non-challenging. Over the ensuing years, and especially as several of my children became musicians, my world re-expanded to jazz, to show tunes, to the ‘new” classical music of Adams and Ades and even my son Sheridan.
Today, my musical world is vast. I love the electronic music Evan listens to. I could listen to Rose’s original music forever. Indie? Blues? Jazz? I am so there. And so, as I sit on the beach, with the earbuds that no longer make me cringe, I look forward to the shuffle of tunes. Keith Jarrett? Sonny Rollins? Yo Yo Ma? Whatever is next in the lineup, I am ready to enjoy.
Next month, Sher, Ya-Jhu and several musical friends will present a series of concerts at the beach titled “Celtic to Classical,” embracing a host of musical styles. I look forward to sitting in the audience and applauding an Irish jig, a Sephardic Jewish suite, a Beethoven symphony.
What will music sound like in the decades to come? Who knows? But a CD of music sent into space on the Voyager included gamelan music from Java, aboriginal songs from Australia, Mozart, Louis Armstrong and Stravinsky. Clearly we believe that we can reach out to our alien brothers and sisters through music. What a gift. What a joy.
Hello, universe. Are you there? I know you are! Sing with us!