Spring is here and with it–Easter. For musicians, the Easter holiday is one of our busiest times of the year. Churches and faith centers will typically spend more for extra musicians and grand performances at this time of year (and also at Christmas).
This year, I will be playing in a full orchestra for a church in Scarsdale, New York. The musicians who have been hired to play for the Easter services are professionals and along with the sacred music to be performed, we will also be playing Beethoven’s 7th Symphony in A Major.
Such a large scale work is somewhat uncommon for church services. However, at the first rehearsal, the music director shared with us that the orchestra’s performance each year is highly requested by parishioners. They ask for it year round, and many have shared with him how the music uplifts them and how it connects to their faith in various ways.
Though this story may be heartwarming, it also provides support to the idea that music is still very relevant our lives. Beethoven’s 7th Symphony is entirely secular. Yet, the great dance-like themes, the soaring melodies, and the brisk tempos have a way of lifting people up and stimulating them. The parishioners of this particular church feel as if the music affirms their beliefs.
Culturally, we’ve nearly always turned to music to help us make a point or emphasize a certain emotion or spiritual concept. That’s why we play music at graduations, wedding, and funeral services. Music helps us to share in an emotional state together.
On Easter Sunday, the church members will share in the joy of Beethoven’s great masterwork together–but Easter shouldn’t have to be the only time of the year when this happens. We need to encourage people to attend concerts and have this great and possibly cathartic experience more often. We should find better ways of sharing emotions with our audience members, we should use our music to create life-changing experiences. Clearly, the support for great music as demonstrated by the members of this particular church suggests that music can still be easily understood and uniquely interpreted by all.
Wouldn’t it be nice if there was music filled Easter all year long?