The first time I went to the symphony was in 2012. After that experience I was hooked. There were so many emotions that were evoked in me that night. The feeling of being in the foyer, the anticipation of the doors opening, entering the concert hall and looking up and around at the massive, wide and captivating space. It was an exhilarating experience, and still is every time. But when the orchestra enters the stage, and everything becomes quiet for a moment, and with a deep breath the conductor raises his arms and it begins. And you are taken to a new and magical world.
Whenever I travel to a new city, one of my favorite things to do is attend a symphony. I’ve had the privilege to attend some of the most spectacular symphony halls around the world, including the likes of Smetana Hall in Prague, the Amazon Theatre in Manaus (Brazil), and one of my favorites, my current location, the Sydney Opera House in Sydney. The halls themselves are artwork. Many have taken years to design and build. The Sydney Opera House, as we know is a marvel of architecture, and it took a well deserved 14 years to build. That’s a long time in the modern era. There are many more halls to see. I’m always thinking about my next trip, and whether they will have a concert hall I can attend to listen to the local talent there. Whether they are performing Mozart, Beethoven Bach, Mendelssohn or Tchaikovsky, it doesn’t matter to me. I just want to be a part of the experience.
When the symphony is on, life becomes something magnificent. There are many components that make up an orchestra. In large orchestras there are up to 90 musicians. There are four types of instruments that make up an orchestra. The woodwinds (clarinets and oboes), the brass (trumpets and trombones), the percussion (the drums), and the strings. They all play their part and are essential to the symphony. But what would the symphony be without the strings? It would be of little substance. The strings carry the melody most of the symphony, and among those the violin plays the most important part in the orchestra. They are the highest-sounding of the string instruments. Being bowed and not played with air, violinists can play long melodic phrases.
The pitch of a violin is determined by one’s fingers on the strings. It’s easier to produce varying vibrato, a rapid, slight variation in pitch producing a stronger or richer tone, mimicking the human voice more than any other other instrument. Violinists can play two notes at a time, as well as perform quick passages making it the most robust instrument on stage. The similar sound of the other stringed instruments, create a homogeneous sound — no, they create a symphony.
The violin is a humble and unassuming instrument. Small and unassuming, it can create a captivating and melodic sound, far greater than it’s size. As the violinist’s arm quickly sways back and forth, the vibrations of the strings in contact with the bow are transmitted through the bridge and sound post to the body of the violin. The sound radiates into the surrounding air. The violin has a wide range of melodies it can can carry. It can be solemn and calming, a sound that soothes the soul or a fast paced and elevated sound that delights our spirits. The instrument carries me to a heavenly space. It awakens something within me, stimulating my senses and powerfully stirring emotions inside. I don’t know if I should shout because of the joy I feel or weep at it’s beauty and power. The violin’s melody makes me think of nature, the wind, rivers, lakes and oceans, plants and trees, birds and the animals. Everything in it’s own place, all good and pure. It evokes something inside of me I sometimes didn’t know was there that brings tears to my eyes. Perhaps some regrets, loss or the special memories that life gives us along the way. When I’m listening to the symphony I often find myself drawn into the melody the soloist creates. I can almost sense what they are feeling, and my soul is moved with their every move, their passion, their focus, perseverance and determination to carry the symphony and never give up. It makes me think about us as individuals, playing our song. Stepping into the passion we are called to, being captivated in our creation. Never giving up.
The genius and delicacy of the violin captivates me. It reminds me of the intricacies woven into the fabric of our lives and the fragility of being human — humous… albeit dust, but some pretty good dust. It’s amazing how something so small, as us, can have such incredible purpose. We are just 1 in 7 billion, but we have a part to play – a purpose to fulfil. That’s an incredible opportunity, that challenges me everyday. If we all sought to fulfill our purpose we could potentially end a lot of the worse problems in the world. Perhaps world hunger or bringing an end to tyranny and oppression. The world would be a better place.
The violin takes us on a journey. It seemingly has the power to embrace our mind, body and soul. We lose sense of where we are and what is happening around us. The layers and intricacies make me think about the complexities of life. It being just a moment that is made up of many moments, like a beautiful sonata that commences, slows time, but eventually ends. What if we embraced life as we did the sound of an symphony? We might not know the next song and we don’t always know how it will end, that is up to the orchestra. but we gladly go along on the journey with them. Perhaps life wouldn’t seem as bleak and we wouldn’t experience immemorable moments if we saw it through these eyes.
And the symphony plays on. This year has reminded me of how challenges we face can bring us down, and in the midst we feel at a loss, and well, low. It can feel inescapable, at times. But there can be a melody that can be found there! I think a symphony, for me, has been a gateway to a whole new perspective on life. When I listen to classical music at times of joy and celebration, at times when I require focus, or need to let go, it renews me. That little tiny violin, with the ability to command an entire symphony, reminds me a lot of us as individuals, stepping into something that we are passionate about – something that elevates and inspires us. Something greater than ourselves. Being committed to this risky isn’t always easy, but it’s something I promise to stay committed to for the rest of my days, embracing the challenges, every twist and turn and the sweet high notes in it. Life can be beautiful. It’s all there waiting for us. We only have to listen for the melody.