Last night I attended a concert at Orchestra Hall ( Symphony Center, but it will always be Old Ted Thomas' Orchestra Hall to me) developed and conducted by Francis Cardinal George and Sir Gilbert Levine. Cardinal George was the Executive Producer of this concert and had brought together people of many faiths, talents and points of view.
Leading the Lyric Opera Orchestra and Chicago Symphony Chorus in a special concert celebrating the first anniversary of the beatification of John Paul II. "Peace Through Music: In the Spirit of John Paul – Chicago 2012" Sir Gilbert Levine helped bring people of all faiths and political points of view together through music.
This event coincided with the visit to our fair city by the Nobel Peace Laureates and Sean Penn. The concert's genesis was the seventeen year partnership and intense friendship between a young musician and the Pope who brought down Communism. One of the Nobel Laureates was Lech Walesa who along with the Polish Pontiff defied the balkanizing and soulless dictates of secular materialism through their faith, courage and commitment to something greater than themselves. It would be pretty tough to be a self-absorbed celebrity on the docks of Gdansk.
Music is essentially math. What we consider mathematics in our post-spiritual material world is bean-counting, whether it measures glaciers, or counts the bodies of slaughtered innocents. Music is God's math in truth. Music sweeps our souls clean. It is the primal antiseptic and narcotic.
In celebration of the Beatification of Pope John Paul II, music brought people together. Jews and Catholics, secularists and people of faith. The first half of the concert featured a 1,000 year old Polish hymn to the Mother of God, a modernist choral and orchestral piece, and Bach's Magnificat in D Minor. J.S. Bach was a Lutheran whose devotional sense of music shunned not the Faith from which he and his family parted company. The second half of the evening's performances was devoted to Ludwig Von Beethoven's Symphony # 3 - The Eroica. Eroica means "Heroic." Hero comes from Old English or Anglo Saxon - ἥρϝως meaning protector, or defender.
Beethoven originally dedicated Symphony # 3 - to Napoleon, until the Little Corporal crowned himself Emperor. Instead, the deaf man of Bonn praised the human spirit without borders. Sir Gilbert Levine swept notes, talents, personalities, assumptions, backgrounds and beliefs into a tornado of spirit in the Fourth Movement. I have listened to The Eroica many times and at the command of the batons of Sir George Solti, James Levine, Henry Mazer, Carlo Maria Guillini and Andre Previn. I have heard it live as a a teenage punk janitor laying on the stairs, or the red plush boxes of Orchestra Hall while the CSO rehearsed or performed. May Malibu CD player has churned out Beethoven's Third. I did not really get it until last night with the 4th and final movement - Beethoven is all over the place guided by a bass-line.
The bass-line, it seems to me anyway, is the recognition of the human constants - the sanctity of human life, the courage required to move here and there and at subtle but necessary changes of pace and tone in order to be truly heroic - to protect life, liberty and human happiness. Music is math.
The human spirit tires. Pope John Paul II seemed to instinctively know that we all need to become souls refreshed - he too suffered under the worst that the human spirit allows when it gets too tired of counting costs and bodies - nationalistic fascism and international Communism. Through music, Pope John Paul seemed to say "It is easy to go along when you are tired; snap out of it and get back in the game!"
I got home at 11:45 P.M. last night and woke up at 4: A.M. most refreshed. I don't remember what I dreamed about, but it must have been good. I read.
I read about President Obama's visit to the Holocaust Museum yesterday and his announcement of the U.S. Atrocities Prevention Board to be headed by National Security Adviser Samantha Power.
Nobel intentions and goals. Ms. Power was a force behind President Obama's outreach to the Muslilim World, his promises to Hamas, his dismissal of Amercan Exceptionalism and his policies against Israel.
Ms. Power's board is yet to be named. That will bear some attention, I believe. Samantha Power was ayoung reporter who covered the War in the Balkans and wrote a best seller about America's failure to act while Croatians, Serbs, Christians and Muslims engaged in ethnic cleansing, She was most affected by the slaughter of Muslims there.
Ms. Power has taken a view of Israel besieged that makes sense to Oscar nominees, but is lost on most people. Ms. Power even advocated a US invasion of Israel to prevent another Holocaust. No, really.
Genocide is about as unheroic as human beings can get. Islam has been pretty clear on its intentions with regard to Israel from the Grand Mufti to the leadership of Hamas.