Dear Music Person

Sophia Ippolito, Contributing Writer

Dear music lover, 

As I am sitting at my desk, frustrated, I now realize I do not have an answer to the question I wished to make the very theme of this article which has now found its way into your curious hands. I am willing to admit that my originally-simple topic has turned out to be quite the opposite. As my editor described to me the gist of the article, I had thought writing it would be an easy task. I see now I was wrong. What I had hoped was to dazzle my reader with wonderful words describing what music is and what music means in my opening remarks, but I now understand that my mistake lies in trying to define something that is recognizably indefinable. I suppose asking someone to describe music would be similar to asking them to describe life- infinitely describable while being all the while indescribable. 

So I will not bother trying to describe what it is that happens to us while those arranged notes we call music run their course, and I will instead describe to you what it felt like walking into the Rooke Recital Hall on the University’s campus many nights ago for the first of the six performances. The night’s event, “Hammer and Klavier,” rightfully named after the marimba (Hammer) and the piano (Klavier), which were the performance’s featured instruments, was like nothing I’d ever seen. I must also note that the two pianos of this performance were played by no other than two of the University’s own talented piano instructors, Sezi Seskir and Qing Jiang. Let the reader be assured that it is not my habit to dish out compliments where they do not seem to belong, however, the event that took place at Rooke Recital Hall on March 24 was, in my opinion, nothing short of exceptional. University members, I do believe you should be proud of your faculty. 

I wish I could describe it in better terms, however, there is a scene from a Broadway show I enjoyed where a waltz takes place and, rather than filling the stage with actors, only a small few remained on stage while projectors painted the walls of the theater with dancing specters. I remember sitting in the seats of that theater listening to the orchestra’s skilled pianist and watching the walls move with every note, as I sat similarly in the seats of Rooke Recital Hall and felt a very similar feeling. I know there were no projectors in the University’s hall, however, I feel as though dancing men and women filled the walls, seeming to emanate from the very pianos themselves. 

American Sound is the product of musical minds on campus who wanted to celebrate the unique music and unique musical development of the nation. It is “no one thing, but rather an idea that America has had so many artists past and present working in different styles. On the one hand, they feel discreet, but on the other hand, they all seem to be cut from a larger cultural cloth or fabric,” Assistant Professor of Music Daniel Temkin said. The six-concert events feature a wide array of students, faculty, alumni and guest performers working in unison to make the festival a raging success.

Although you did not come here for an opinion piece, that is another section of the paper, I am going to give mine anyway. The event I attended was electric and it made me excited, not that I was hearing something new, but that what I was hearing and what was new to me actually had a long and rich history in the nation. You are never too old to hear new instruments for the first time. The final two events of the festival will take place this weekend on Saturday, April 9 at 7:30 p.m. in the Recital Hall of the music department and the day after on Sunday, April 10 at 7:30 p.m. in the Recital Hall. 

Earlier I admitted that I could not satisfy the reader in definitively answering the elusive “what is music” question and while one description will vary from the next and that from the next, sometimes we authors find ourselves in the extraordinary position where we do not always have to write everything you readers see on the page before you. Two University students, one previous and one current, and Assistant Professor of Music Qing Jiang have offered up what music means to them: “I feel the emotions of the piece take over my body and allow me to fully immerse myself into the colors of the sounds. It helps me to escape the world and enter an imaginary place where these colors paint a picture in my mind. I could never live without music in my life; it is my way to take a break from all of the stresses and worries of daily life and lets me express myself in my own way. Music is a means of exploring all the different musical possibilities composers have unearthed,” Olivia Peters ’24 said. Between modern and contemporary music “musicians are able to discover new soundscapes and write them into something I am able to reproduce myself,” Brittany Garcia ’18 said.

Finally, Professor Jiang herself spoke to us, and, while it is unusual to insert full, unabridged quotes into short pieces such as this, I felt that for the content and the feeling behind each of her words I could not bring myself to alter it- “For me as a performing and teaching musician, music is about sharing with the community, music is about communicating one’s stories and emotions. It is a universal language for me to interact with people from all over the world. Music is also about finding one’s voice and identity, for me, through performing and teaching. It takes us to any known or unknown places, and states of emotions through the imaginations of the composers,” Professor Jiang said.

These descriptions might not fit for you and might not have been able to express what music means to each of you, but something tells me that while reading this article you spent some time thinking about it to yourself, whether intentional or not. Maybe you thought about those nights where as a child you couldn’t sleep on account of the rain and your mom came into your room to sing the fright away. Maybe you miss the sound of your grandfather playing on his piano when company would visit or your high school best friend who used to sing unapologetically to the car radio anytime you drove to the mall or to the movies. Some of us even have the great pleasure of making our own music, whether, through instruments, the rhythmic tapping of our fingers on wooden desks when we grow irritable, or during the watery concerts we put on in our showers, and some of us need only to hear a sad note or to overhear a rather chatty conversation between the morning birds to appreciate all it has to offer.

Whatever your reason, whatever your passion, we understand you because we’re music people too. See you at the concert.

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