Love and Sadness

Posted: July 8, 2013 in Uncategorized
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For the third season in a row, Broadway Christian Church has hosted the Chamber series of the summer symphony program, Hot Summer Nights. Tonight was the third and final. And somewhere among Haydn, Scarlatti, Dvorak and Beethoven, my favorite of the evening appeared, a little known and seldom played piece by Leonard Bernstein, Serenade for Violin, String Orchestra, Harp and Percussion – the fourth movement, Agathon.

Bernstein composed the work in response to the death of one of his dear mentors. The intellectual background included the works of Plato on the many facets of love. True to the occasion and complexity of love, the piece was at once melancholy and sweet, harmonious and jarring. It is a beautiful work of art. You may click the link at the end of these words to listen for yourself.

At the end of the piece – which trails into silence as gently as it entered – the audience waited, not wanting to ruin the moment with their own applause, but then did, irresistibly drawn to express thanks. When it died down and the maestro, Kirk Trevor, moved to the stage to introduce the next number, a lone voice from the audience asked a question.

Know that our evenings do not program question and answer time. This is no musical support group, or class, or crowd sourcing around the arts. This is a concert with performers playing and the audience listening, experiencing.

The question had a male voice attached to it and it came out in these words: “If this is about love, why is it so sad?”

For a second time the hall grew silent, but this time not so much because of awe as shock. Is a question like that appropriate in a setting such as this? Why not ask it later, out in the foyer? Or summon the ghost of old Bernie and ask him?

The maestro paused and slowly answered with some questions of his own, “Doesn’t love also have a component of sadness to it? Aren’t there times when we realize that we deeply love what we can no longer have? And isn’t love often unfulfilled? Isn’t it the case that not all love is romantic love, but desire for and adoration of beauty or the loss of it? And isn’t love multi-faceted, like Bernstein’s piece?”

More silence in the hall.

And he slowly began to introduce the next selection …

  1. Gloria says:

    It was as you said . . . and our count of 157 all gave pause. For it seemed that love and sadness was a common denominator and we, an audience of friends and strangers, were one at that moment . . . each refecting our own personal love and sadness stories.

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