And, as I sit at my desk with his Egmont Overture playing on my iTunes, deep into the online data files of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, researching the historical meaning of the songs selected by OPYO Music Director, Mr. Jesse Collett, I am reminded just how intelligent the universe is and how great the power of music as a uniting force.
Many of the composers you will hear in the OPYO Homeland for the Holidays concert were inspired to write their pieces during times of great political unrest in their countries. Simple freedoms were oppressed, and the “Common Man” depicted by Aaron Copeland was obliged to perform his daily activities not just on the traditional battlefield, but in his “homeland”. There is a fine line between nationalism expressed as music that unites, and stirring patriotism that lies deep in a very personal way and can strike a divisive passionate nerve.
I always tell my children, that freedom isn’t free, and you can hear that in the historically significant work Finlandia by Jean Sibelius . There is a great depth and seriousness in this piece, balanced with a power that is held in check with strong brass and wind notes surrounded by the sublety of serenading strings that sooth; nothing less that an all out war on oppression and the listener’s senses, followed by a victory celebration.
By the time the orchestra plays the Pizzicato Polka by Strauss, I’ve no doubt that we in the audience will feel much like the plucked strings of the violins, violas, celli, and basses all different but resonating in unison……together, free, and grateful to be home for the holidays!