I was weeping as I sat in the shadows of the music-filled auditorium. I thought to myself, “What is wrong with me? Why am I crying?” I felt embarrassed. Here I am, a grown man crying for no apparent reason. My heart raced and beads of perspiration formed on my forehead as I tried to hold back the tears. I quickly discovered there’s no inconspicuous way to wipe tears from your face, so I let them flow. I felt like each one of them was capturing the light from the stage. I was confident that the glistening droplets must be distracting to the people sitting around me. I told myself, “Breathe. Just breathe. Inhale. Exhale.”
As the music reached a crescendo, I surfed on the sound waves to a distant shore deep inside myself. I think this must have been happening throughout the auditorium. It was as if the sound waves broke across the remote places in each of us, washing up emotion and applause. I watched the faces of the people around me and the faces of the orchestra as the applause flew around them like a murmuration of starlings. The word “applause” comes from the Latin word applausus, meaning “the beating of wings”. Hundreds of wings were beating in the air just above the waves that evening, carrying our joy to the talented musicians who graciously shared their years of practice and dedication with us. I felt like they were playing just for me, and I wondered how many others felt the same way.
It wasn’t until my drive home after the concert that I realized why I wept. During the last movement, violinist, Andrew Irvin, played a note whose frequency resonated deep inside of me. In that moment I realized that this was “my note”—the note that connects my soul with something divine. The birth of this note—my beautiful note—had disrupted my stillness. In that moment I was overwhelmed with awe and gratitude. And I wept.
The ASO had unwittingly conspired with my angels to bring me a lesson on being fully present in the moment, in the now. Each time I hear my note and the hundreds of other notes that resonate with listeners throughout the auditorium, I am lifted just high enough to see the feet of angels dancing to Mozart, Bach, and my favorite– Sergei Prokofiev. The next time you are sitting in the dim stillness of the concert hall listening to the thousands of perfect notes being played, try to find yours—the note that connects you to something divine. If you’re like me, this singular discovery will leave you breathless. The note—your note—will grab your attention and remind you to enjoy the vibrating atoms of grace and gratitude that are carried on the crests of the sound waves.
Thank you, David Gerstein, for inviting me to come and hear you play. Thank you, Andrew, for playing my note. And thank you to the incredible musicians whose love for their craft stirred my muse who awakened me to the words I’ve written in your honor. In joy.