I had the pleasure of working with the San Diego Symphony this past December. A great orchestra full of wonderful players, some were former students from Juilliard and a joy to see again. The staff was friendly and efficient; the hall splendid, and San Diego itself, well … “Wow!”
The San Diego Symphony’s marketing slogan “Find Your Music” is succinct and inviting. It’s particularly effective for an orchestra offering varied musical options to a diverse community. Every time my drivers dropped me at the hall, I could see it emblazoned on the billboard across the street. I pondered it all week.
I mention my drivers because it was they who brought special meaning to “Find Your Music.” A husband and wife team, they did all the driving for the symphony’s guests. Roz Barton, the wife, picked me up at the airport. A former Marine from the Vietnam era, we talked about everything from healthcare to Vietnam to the proper technique for shining your shoes for inspection.
Her husband, Alva, drove me the next day. A most happy fellow, he’s a combination of Ramsey Lewis and Cab Calloway – both hip and dapper. Alva discussed all aspects of music: technical to spiritual, especially improvisation. One morning on the way to the hall, he told me about a song he had improvised at the piano. He thought of it one day when remembering his brother. On the way back to the hotel that afternoon, he played it for me. It was simple, sweet, charming, and a little melancholy. Here it is, if you’d like to listen to it.
I congratulated him on his composition and thanked him for offering it. He showed no haughtiness about his achievement. He merely wanted to celebrate, and share, the joy of creativity. He will probably revise it, just like any worthy composer would – or move on to his next composition. It’s his choice.
Alva’s gift made me wish everyone would take time in their life to find their music. Because, the egoless discovery of one’s inner artistic self leads to greater personal identification with, and appreciation of, great art. For all artistic expression – celebrated or unknown, public or private – starts as Alva started, with expressive desire and sincerity.
I’m looking forward to sharing the rest of the PSO season with you as we all “find our music.” Happy New Year! Happy Epiphany! Thanks Alva!