The three most important songs in my life are probably pretty fluid. Ironic as a musician that I have a hard time pinning down just three that are meaningful, I think there are a few that have marked important passages in my life: Brahms clarinet sonata in F minor was the piece I played to get accepted into my university of choice, Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2 in d minor was the first live (or recorded even) piece of music to make me cry – it is still one that I can’t not listen to it, and the Copland Clarinet Concerto is my great white whale – it’s a piece I love dearly and know intimately, but am pretty certain i’ll never be able to play it except in my basement.
University was probably the time of my life where I learned the most, and not just academically or musically, but also stepped into a much larger world – to the Matrix extent, but it was a bit of a culture shock. I went from being a big fish in a very little pond to being a tetra in the Atlantic. I learned a great deal about humility that first year, and the many years since actually. I also learned a great deal socially, in a personal and political sense – those five years shaped my outlook for the rest of my life, I think…
I would also add a fourth piece to my list of important songs: the soundtrack to The Empire Strikes Back. This was the first album I ever bought. I loved it so much that I played it on the record player and held up my tape recorder to it so I would have it with me on our summer family road trips. I bought the album before I saw the movie, and it led me to classical music and music as a pathway to the soul, maybe even more than University did.
This is why is pains me to see orchestras pooh-poohing movie soundtracks and video game soundtracks – these aren’t to be underrated – this is the future of live orchestral performance. This is the bridge to a younger generation of instrumental music, and many orchestras are ignoring a sure-fire draw to their theatres, just as Shakespeare was a draw to Elizabethan audiences. Music is music and you can’t say one is better than another, not really. You can certainly appreciate other genres, even if you don’t like it, which I think is a point many people miss.
Music is the path to an open mind, and to become judgemental about it only closes the mind.