Like most musicians, I have loved music ever since I can remember. I joined a children’s choir when I was in elementary school and attempted to play more instruments than my band teacher thought wise. I always found the most joy in choir though, and singing in an ensemble, either small or large, is consistently where I find the most fulfillment. Here, each voice is at once, critical in its individual presence, yet functions in the larger organism, to become more than the sum of its parts. It is this feeling of community and collaboration that drew me to music so much.
Especially in the times in which we are living, the feeling of being connected and of being a part of something larger is powerful. When you sing, or play, or create with other people, it makes you feel like you’re worthwhile, essential to a goal, part of something that you could not create for or by yourself, and intimately connected with others. People are inherently drawn to community; no one is an island, even if they claim to be. Music provides a sometimes unspoken, subconscious togetherness and a space for people to be connected. For me as well, music creates a space for me to tell stories, to become a completely different person, while at the same time, deeply reflect on my own personal experiences. Being able to share who you are to the world can be a vulnerable experience, but if you choose to, it can be rewarding and validating.
It can be easy to discount music that was written years ago when social, cultural, and political norms were so different than today. I believe that in the 21st century we can look at music from the past using the lens of the present by reading and studying the historical context of the work, then try to see the bigger picture. Then we can ask: how does this fit in with our lives today? It is here that the genius of early works is revealed. Love, loss, defiance, political upheaval, compassion, and the quest for a better life are part of the human condition and are prevalent themes in vocal works of every era. Musicians have the crucial and, for me, fulfilling role of communicating these thoughts and emotions clearly and meaningfully to an audience, revealing the works as both accessible and relevant.
Before my great grandfather died, he sent me a letter telling me how much music had influenced his life and how proud he was that I was pursuing music. He included a hand-scripted copy of one of the standards that the choir he belonged to until he was 90, performed, entitled “Music was my First Love”. This song has stuck with me, because the words describe exactly my relationship with my craft, and the life that is waiting for me.
I crave multidimensional musical experiences to broaden my repertoire and range of abilities as a performer, bringing an open mind to new perspectives. Even though times are difficult for the arts, I still remain hopeful for the future of music that includes more diversity, more important voices, and the fusion of the old and the new to create a more complete narrative of the human experience.