Former junior high sax player Annise Parker still inspired by Symphony music
Imagine experiencing films like The Lord of the Rings, Schindler’s List or even Star Wars without the accompanying music. Think about the entrance of Darth Vader without the menacing and angular rhythms of the Imperial March, the languid tearful melody as Mr. Schindler sees potential lives saved in his material possessions or the pastoral flute theme carrying the essence of The Shire in The Return of the King.
There is a reason why first-class musicians like John Williams, Itzhak Perlman and Sir James Galway were summoned to record these tracks: Referring to music as “accompanying” is doing a disservice to its innate nature. In these cases, music carries a truth in spirit that images and words cannot convey alone.
The robust opening of Carmina Burana will scare you to death. The sultry story of Daphnis and Chloe may prompt impromptu making-out sessions with random strangers. And any of the Rachmaninoff Piano Concertos will renew your belief in the possibility of true love, no matter how many catastrophic Internet dates you have managed to escape, with a hint of class of course.
Yes, it can do all that, and more. Music inspires.
But we can also take it for granted. It’s constant and omnipresent, often fading into the background as our busy Twitter-like minds constantly shift from thought to thought. In this world of hyper information, we often fail to stop and smell the roses, or in this case, listen to some Beethoven.
In just the first quarter of 2011 alone, Apple sold 19.45 million iPods. Yes, we like techie-toys, but we must have our music as well.
And Mayor Annise Parker feels the same way.
“Music in general, is very important in a number of different ways,” Parker says. “Music can be healing. Music can be inspiring. In a time of tragedy, when we gather, music can bind us together. When we stand and sing the National Anthem, or even when we stand at the baseball stadium and sing ‘Take Me Out to the Ball Game,’ music is an important part of our culture.”
The Houston Symphony is approaching its 100th birthday, an important milestone in the history of any organization and for the city that supports it. What started as a single concert in 1913 sponsored by Ima Hogg, “The First Lady of Texas,” has become a vital part of Houston’s identity.
“We have a great Symphony in Houston. It is one of the cultural pillars of the community," Parker says. "Not just from an artistic standing, but an essential part of our pragmatic efforts to market the city of Houston, just like our sports teams, our infrastructure and our schools.”
Many attend the symphony, but for different reasons. Some perhaps simply to be entertained while others want to be whisked away and escape the realities of the everyday. Some may choose to listen to a work that has personal meaning, not unlike visiting a good ole friend, while others want to learn and be challenged. But our approach and relationship to music usually starts at a young age.
“It’s important for kids to experiment with a musical instrument. Whether they pursue it or not, there is much to learn from studying it," Parker says. "I played the saxophone growing up, starting in band in junior high. I don’t have musical aptitudes and cannot carry a tune to save my life. But I have a good ear and enjoy music.”
Although it cannot compare to live music, technology has made it easy to stay connected and have an endless supply of tunes available. Your playlist, like your close friends, says a lot about you.
“Yes, I have an iPod and listen to a whole range styles and genres," Parker says. "Classical, folk, world, Irish, Celtic, classical guitar, and a bunch of tunes by local bands. Of course, old classics. Lately, my favorite thing to listen to has been the Rocky Horror Picture Show soundtrack.”
And if Houston had a soundtrack?
“If Houston had a theme song, it would have to have to be lively and energetic with an element of world music," the mayor says. "It would reflect our diverse international make up with a cosmopolitan driving beat, because we are always on the move.”
Any thoughts for Houston’s soundtrack? Or perhaps your own theme song?
Share your thoughts on how music has inspired you, what's on your playlist or ideas for Houston's theme song on the blog of the Houston Symphony.