Tag Archives: Pytor Ilich Tchaikovsky

Optimism and Belief

Cloud-line

In my life, there have been two things standing as constants: optimism and belief. I have embraced these two guiding principles, and striven in due course to live a better life as a part of the wider human community through them. For me, my faith as a Catholic and as a Christian is an inherently positive one; it is a faith in Resurrection, in Union with the Divine Essence, in the fulfilment of the circle and restoration of humanity to paradise.

Yet to allow this faith to persist I have found myself inherently optimistic, always expecting the best from people, and looking at even the darkest of situations with the hope that is required to believe in something greater than Reality. True, this is blind faith, something entirely counter to the principles of our scientific age, yet in the end is not blind faith equally necessary in a scientific setting? After all, we have yet to learn all that there is to know about nature, our sciences are as of yet unfinished in amassing the totality of reality. Therefore, if we are to accept science as an effective and prosperous measure of nature, then we must also accept that that measure is man-made and limited in its scope.

I see those things measured by science each and every day, and I am in awe of their wonder. I see how the Sun rises in the east and sets in the west, how the stars circle in the sky as the year passes. I hear the wind bristling through the leaves of the trees, and across the tall grass prairies. I have known what it means to be caught on the beach at high tide, and to be at the mercy of the awesome tempestuous power of lightning. Past generations might well have worshiped these forces of nature, seen them as gods like Zeus, Taranis, or Ukko, yet I see them as terrestrial, as natural, as real. The true force, the veritable essence to be worshiped is far greater than even the rolling thunder or bristling lightning.

In these circumstances I am reminded of the American hymn How Great Thou Art, yet in the smallest of moments too I am reminded of God’s coming to Elijah on the softest breath of wind in the cave. Divinity and the essence that made all that we know and love is so far beyond our own understanding, yet in that realisation I find my peace.

Often it can be said that I find my belief renewed through music, through that purest, most mellifluous of sound. Some of the most sacred moments of my life, the most moving moments in the story of my belief have come in moments of music, from operas like Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte to the Pilgrim’s Chorus in Wagner’s Tannhäuser to great orchestral outbursts of emotion as in Stravinsky’s Firebird and most all of Mahler’s symphonies; yet equally spiritually potent for me are the more recently composed naturalistic Mass settings that I sang with the Rockhurst University Chorus while an undergraduate student there from 2011 to 2015. Music has long been said to be the Voice of the Heavens, and certainly it has appeared to be so to me.

Yet what I find the most fulfilling to my belief in the Divine is humanity. In the Christian tradition we believe that humanity was “Created in the Image and Likeness of God.” For me, this means that our souls particularly were made in the Divine Image, but that our bodies also have Divine inspiration. When I see humanity, with all our faults, all our problems, all our pain and anguish, I can’t help but be swept off my feet in grief. Yet at the end of the day I always remember the old adage echoed by Little Orphan Annie, “Tomorrow will be a brighter day.”

I believe that one day that will come true, that one day all will be sorted out in our capitals, our courts, our executive palaces. I believe that one day we will march through our cities, not in protest or in anger, not out of anguish or to alleviate our suffering, but because we are celebrating that most essential characteristic of our humanity: liberty. I believe that someday all humanity will walk together, singing in unison, a multitude of voices, of languages, of cultures and creeds making one song. I believe in optimism, and I am optimistic about my belief.

Haifa Symphony Orchestra warms its audience’s hearts

Kansas City – Arriving at the Kauffman Centre this evening, I found myself pleasantly surprised at the choice of repertoire by this evening’s entertainment. Israel’s Haifa Symphony Orchestra as a part of the Harriman-Jewell Series performed a programme of Weber, Rachmaninov, and Tchaikovsky, which did a good job at exciting, and thrilling the audience with each passing note. Sadly, that audience was only at about half capacity, in large part due to the inclement weather in the form of snow that is currently falling upon a Kansas City unhappy at its presence.

Under the direction of Polish Maestro Boguslaw Dawidow, the orchestra made a resounding and fantastic proclamation of presence with their performance of Carl Maria von Weber’s Overture to Euryanthe. The music, which was quite striking of the period and art of its day, resounded about the hall, thrilling everyone who was there to listen.

The Weber was very well an overture for the brass and percussion, setting the stage for their spectacular performances in the second piece, Rachmaninov’s Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18. The orchestra was joined by excellent Israeli pianist Roman Rabinovich, whose talents at the piano are absolutely fantastic! I thoroughly enjoyed Rabinovich’s performance. His encores were equally thrilling, the former of which exhibited his prowess and the power of the music itself, which ended with the piano being forced back at the emotion of the piece itself as Rabinovich jumped up to take his closing bow. His performance of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Angel of Music was quite charming, calling forth reminiscence of sweet memories.

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Helzberg Hall at the Kauffman Centre in Kansas City, tonight’s venue.

The second half was made of Tchaikovsky’s powerful Symphony No. 4, which began thrillingly, continued melodically and joyously in the second movement, danced through the third, and concluded with a bang in the fourth movement. Dawidow’s prowess as a conductor was quite well exhibited in this performance, in which his control and leadership of the orchestra was unlimited and omnipotent, like the music he conducted.

I was equally happily surprised by the two orchestral encores, the Theme from Schindler’s List and Sousa’s always happy Stars and Stripes Forever. The concert seemed themed at a mix of, “Well, we have tickets, might as well go,”, “They’re from Israel!”, and “Let’s enjoy the music.” After all, the latest reports from the motherland of Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky have not been promising for peace. God willing, things will improve there.

In totality, I fully enjoyed tonight’s concert by the Haifa Symphony Orchestra, and I look forward to hearing them again in the future. If any members of the orchestra do read this review, I would just like to wish them good luck and safe travels out of Kansas City in the next few days.