What is music but a collection of sounds and vibrations? For me it is more than that, it is two letters away from magic. At a personal level it has the power to bring pleasure, connect people together, invoke emotions and memories. Collectively it can represent a sense of belonging and national pride. It is inclusive of all age groups and generations.
My first memory of classical music was filing into assembly at Welsh House Farm Junior and Infant School to the sound Greig’s Peer Gynt and Holst’s Planet Suite with background crackles and pops of mono vinyl recordings, it was the late 1960s after all.
My appreciation of music grew during my time at secondary school in the ’70s. I remember a formative moment aged 11, as if it were yesterday of being totally captivated by Camille Saint-Saëns’ Danse Macabre. Mr Lancaster, our teacher asked us to draw what we heard. I’m sure he told us the story behind the piece as I drew a churchyard scene at night, including graves opening, skeletons appearing and a cockerel heralding the dawn. This experience resonated with me on so many different levels as I had an unhealthy fascination with horror stories and the legends of Vlad the Impaler.
An unholy din
I drove my family to the brink of despair with my attempt at learning to play the violin. Even today I am convinced that the peripatetic teacher disappeared suddenly as a result of the squeals, squawks and squalls from an instrument that in the right hands can bring joy and sadness to listeners.
Knowing my limits
I accept the fact that my musical talents are limited so I have settled into the role of appreciator. Luckily for me Birmingham City Library had a huge collection of vinyl recordings that I took full advantage in borrowing. It was a special moment after a couple of decades and living a dream that I saw Puccini’s Madame Butterfly and Holst’s Planet’s performed at the Sydney Opera House.
Even now I’m carried along on the waves of the sound of the strings when listening to Barber’s Adagio, the mournful troughs and sweeping crescendos connect with my spirit. The magic of music has been part of my world for as long as I can remember, it brings me peace.