Music touches all of our lives, including the way certain songs can trigger a wide range of emotions and memories. Similar to reading a good story, we get different things out of the experience. When we read a book it is often influenced by our individual circumstances, our memories and even things that have happened in our lives. Music works the same way. Two people can listen to The Barber of Seville; one person will envision the beautiful opera, flooded with joy, sorrow, or countless other emotions, while the second person will think only of Bugs Bunny using whipped cream to shave Elmer Fudd’s head… guess to which group I belong?
When I joined the Bedford Community Orchestra in the spring of 2005, I had no idea that the variety of music we performed would be as broad as it has been – ranging from the classical standards of Brahms and Tchaikovsky, to newer pieces from the 20th century by Aaron Copland, to big band hits from the 1940’s, and to popular soundtracks including Harry Potter, Jurassic Park and The Phantom of the Opera.
Growing up playing the violin in grade school and college, most of my experience was with the classical standards, all of which I enjoyed playing. During my school years each group’s ability improved with time, allowing us to play music that progressively became more technically challenging. The same is true about the BCO: I have been expanding my musical “comfort zone,” becoming exposed to different styles and genres of music. While it has been a whole lot of fun to grow and develop, something else has come out of my experience: I have come to understand that unfamiliar styles of music can help a musician grow just as much as increasing the technicality of the music.
Each of us experiences music in a different way, sometimes because it is instantly recognizable, or sometimes because it is new, different or even a little weird. But to broaden the horizon of both musician and audience alike, we need to explore new, different or less popular works. Who knows? Those newer pieces we may not recognize today could end up, many years from now, becoming the favorite and familiar scores of future movies, television shows and cartoons that our great-grandchildren watch and enjoy.