Saturday, February 23, 2013
The Comfort of Classical Music
My brother and sister are classically trained musicians. I grew up in a house where I spent weekends curled up on a couch constipated over Dostoyevsky and Chekov as I listened to my sister shake the ear wax out of our neighbors with relentless strains of Tchaikovsky and Chopin. When she left, my brother took up the viola and resumed the neighbors’ mandatory classical music education. Even when I wasn’t at home, I heard them play when I hung out at their music schools or attended their performances.
My distress was understandable then when I moved to Cagayan de Oro nearly a decade ago and discovered the absence of my usual auditory comforts. There were no public performances of classical music then. There was only the perennial videoke.
The videoke, by the way, is an excellent machine when in the hands of superb vocalists like my father-in-law. It becomes a tool of torment however, when entrusted to screaming banshees intent on letting us personally inspect their tonsils while singing in keys that have yet to be identified. I would vote for any senatorial candidate who promises to draft a law making prolonged singing by people without talent a crime.
The classical concert scene eventually crept into Cagayan de Oro with the inauguration of the Rodelsa Hall in 2005. The problem is that it costs an arm, a leg and some internal organs to get tickets to a show.
I had to crack open a piggy bank to get tickets and clothes to watch the Cebu Philharmonic Orchestra, the UUU Orchestra (Japan) and Rudolf Pelaez Golez perform at the Rodelsa Hall last Saturday. I had to watch. Some of the musicians were members of the same orchestra my brother played in before he left Cebu.
More than the music (which was superb), what I was after was the comfort of memories, of my lazy days on a couch listening to the work of musicians who suffered from depression while reading depressing literature. Strangely, I count those as happy times.
I wonder if the music meant anything to the rest of the audience. Except for the infernal sound of Cherry Mobile in between pieces, the audience was incredibly polite and gave the performers a standing ovation. But were they being more than polite?
When more pressing concerns such as hunger, poverty and security have been significantly addressed, my hope for Cagayanons is that we’ll find meaning in classical music if only because its true value lies in its ability to comfort, elevate and liberate the human mind and spirit.