As neither an accomplished musician nor an orchestra director or music critic, I have decided to write about music, anyway.
My blogging friend Silvia Villalobos (Silvia Writes), writes that we all want to belong, all need our own tribe of similar minds and pursuits, despite life’s quotidian demands crescendoing to mute our deep aspirations, https://silviatomasvillalobos.wordpress.com/2023/02/08/belonging/. Silvia’s thoughtful blog discourse prompted me to comment in such sostenuto about the tribes I belong to that I came near to writing a blog post on her blog. So, I thought I’d better come here and compose these thoughts on my own page.
Music is my first love. Musicians and music lovers constitute a tribe I belong to.
I do play a little piano and my guitar, and I have a massive music collection. I minored in music in college. As many of you know, the Phantom of My Blog, Moriarty, plays the banjo and is taking zither lessons. But, he doesn’t dust. He’s been away lately, though, overseas, visiting none other than another member of our music tribe, Erik, the Angel of Music, the Phantom of the Opera, the Paris Opera.
Last night I watched the documentary ¡Viva Maestro! about Gustavo Dudamel. You can find it on Amazon. I have been following the career of Venezuela-born Gustavo Dudamel since before he came to direct the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra in 2009. When he was around six years old he would line up his toys and conduct them. He studied violin and conducting. Currently he is the music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra and the Paris Opera. In 2026 he will leave the L.A. Philharmonic to become the director of the New York Philharmonic. There is much more to the story of this 42-year-old’s meteoric rise to fame. And I struggle to write a blog post here and there, in between dusting.
Gustavo Dudamel’s musical, philosophical and social comments support my beliefs on the importance of music and the arts in culture and society, confirm why I engage in certain “tribal” activities and inspire my comments that follow.
I have tribes: My groups of friends—thought groups, soul groups; a kindred spirit group of two; writers groups; musician friends and music lovers—yes, music is my first love: the Smyrna Opera House, here in Delaware, where I chair the volunteer Guild. And there’s my blog—my peer bloggers and readers; my fellow ballet dancers with whom my daughter and I studied for years; and I enjoy bringing my friends together, introducing to each other those who have not met and might enjoy each other. Many of my friends are thinkers; that’s a tribe: thank you, Silvia, for this lovely prompt. I welcome the exchange of information and ideas. That’s what we’re here to do.
Music is the agent of socialization: e.g., José Antonio Abreu’s/Gustavo Dudamel’s El Sistema/Youth Orchestras (founded to combat poverty, get kids off the streets, raise cultural & humanities awareness); the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra (founded by Daniel Barenboim and Edward Said in 1999)—both music organizations bringing together cultural understanding and pushing toward world peace; Yo-Yo Ma, collaborator with musicians of various genres, nationalities and ethnicities, a United Nations Messenger of Peace; and, not least, Bono, social justice activist. The Russians believe that their state support of the arts got them through the 20th century, held Russia together. If people picked up violins instead of pistols, think how harmonious and beautiful the world would be. When you play music with others, you have to listen to them and imagine and strive for the possibilities. That’s power, as Gustavo Dudamel says—of the individual and the tribe; in this case, the orchestra or rock band.
February 9, 2023