Music lives and its future is in good hands

BY RANDALL RIGSBEE, News + Record Staff
Posted 5/24/19

“Music,” the Greek philosopher Plato wrote, “gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.”

The famous Corsican Napoleon Bonaparte, …

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Music lives and its future is in good hands

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“Music,” the Greek philosopher Plato wrote, “gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.”

The famous Corsican Napoleon Bonaparte, chiming in on the topic, said music “is what tells us that the human race is greater than we realize.”

And the late rock musician Frank Zappa, in a more contemporary assessment, observed that “without music to decorate it, time is just a bunch of boring production deadlines or dates by which bills must be paid.”

But we don’t need Napoleon, Plato or Zappa to tell us what we already know, do we? And that’s that music is awesome! Nor did I salt-and-pepper the beginning of this column with their quotes because I thought you needed proof or, worse, conversion.

But it’s nice to be reminded, as those quotes do me, that I’m not alone when music moves me.

Longtime readers of “Randall Reflects” know I’m a music fan, especially appreciative of the music the Beatles produced in their short but productive years as a band; but beyond the Fab Four, my musical tastes may be best summarized in popular parlance: It’s complicated.

Thanks to my dad, who loved classical music and filled our house with its sounds — he played piano, and always kept the radio in our kitchen tuned to WUNC, which then was a classical station — I was immersed as a kid, whether I wanted to be or not, in Wagner and Mozart and Beethoven and Bach (not to be a name-dropper), concertos and Chamber and symphonies and such. I even liked some of it.

But in my room, where I controlled the dials, the walls resonated with lots of other sounds: rock, country, blues, folk and, though it’s always fodder for a joke on a sitcom, I admit here with no shame, that I even liked Broadway show tunes, especially the “West Side Story” soundtrack.

And why would I be ashamed?

There is no bad music. We all march to different drummers. Some music moves us while some doesn’t. Tastes differ.

So we may disagree on the particulars (I’m not a jazz guy) but we’ve all — even, I’m guessing, the most tone deaf among us — found a song, or a voice, or a sonata that hits us, that breeches our being, in the best way.

Everyone likes music.

So, if I’m not trying to sell you on music, what’s my point here?

I only want to pass along good news: Music — that wonderful thing that enriches life, elevates our spirits and about which great and interesting minds have opined for centuries — is alive and well, and it’s in good hands.

I say this with confidence after having the pleasure last week of being in the audience at Northwood High School’s auditorium for Margaret B. Pollard’s Spring Band Concert and witnessing one example of the torch of music ably passed to a young set of players. Such concerts are occurring in auditoriums like Northwood’s all around us now that the school year is winding down.

I had the honor of escorting MBP Language Arts teacher Mrs. Rigsbee, aka my wife, to the performance. She wanted to see her kids play, and I was up for some music. An hour or so later, Mrs. Rigsbee couldn’t have been prouder of those young musicians, and for good reason. They sounded great!

They impressed in every way: in their neat dress, their dedicated demeanor, their maturity and even their silliness (the two are not mutually exclusive for middle schoolers, and the latter was used to charming and funny effect in the sixth-grade band’s set-closing performance of a tune called “Revenge of the Dust Bunnies,” which, during a prolonged pause of the players, had a couple of percussionists costume-clad as “dust bunnies,” momentarily hopping about the auditorium as a handful of their bandmates followed in close pursuit, attempting to vacuum the impish bunnies. With a real vacuum. That was plugged in. With a long, orange cord.

Maybe you had to be there.

The point is, the show was a lot of fun and it was reassuring to know that music is alive and well.

And that’s vitally important for all of us.

Frank Zappa said so.


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