Music is said to have the power to set the spirit free and allow our souls to soar. It is true that some individuals seem to possess the ability to communicate such complexity of feeling through their music that the audience can travel through a whole range of emotions in just one piece of music.
My youngest daughter lives for music and wants to be a soloist. She has always had music in her soul and when she plays the cello she transports you with the absolute sincerity of her playing.
My eldest daughter, a gifted writer, recently wrote the most beautiful essay for her younger sister, which she gave to her on her 15th birthday. It is an extraordinarily insightful piece that illustrates so eloquently what it means to have music in your soul and just how strong the need to let it out can be.
The handwritten note that accompanied the essay said: "I hope you know just how lucky you are to have a passion – and to have found it so early in life. It is something not all find in their lives, though many seek it. Never forget that, and never stop sharing it with the world because, even for a single fleeting moment, you bring them one step closer to finding their own – one step further from giving up."
The Cellist by Kathryn Hubbard
It was night, dark, the air tinged with sadness at the passing of another day, stars glinting with the brightness of a tear-filled eye – desperately contained, yet threatening to overflow at nary a moments notice. It was cold, almost uncomfortably so, and the girl drew her coat around her, shuffling her feet in a fruitless attempt to draw what little warmth she could from her surroundings. Young and pretty; she surveyed the world with wide, naive, eyes that betrayed no glimpse of the anxiety within. She looked for all the world a child, small and forlorn, huddled against the wall as if seeking its comfort. She sighed, tilting her head down as her hair fluttered around her shoulders. Closing her eyes she breathed deeply, crisp air burning her throat; invigorating, calming. Slowly she broke away from the wall and made her way to the door, secluded and unwelcoming, a smudge of brown amongst a sea of grey.
She stepped inside to the overwhelming noise, stark against the empty silence of the courtyard. The anxiety stirred, she breathed deeply and nodded to the man who held her cello. He handed her the instrument wordlessly and, taking it, she headed to the wings of the stage. Someone was talking, she ignored them, focusing inwardly as she pictured the music within her mind, recalling the notes, the fingering. Suddenly, she was being urged on, walking across the stage, staring out across the vast expanse. There had never been so many people. She felt fear, loud and raucous, clutch her heart, icy fingers possessive, incessant. She placed the bow softly, almost infinitesimally above the strings and nodded to the accompanist. The audience grew quiet.
As she played all her fear and trepidation vanished, swept away as the music swirled inside and down her fingers, through them, as she drew the bow across the strings. She didn’t think; she didn’t need to. Her hands plucked and strung the sleek instrument, autonomous, without real conscious thought or direction. As the music filled the hall with a deep, rich, timbre she felt, quite simply, as if it were pouring out of her soul, the cello purely a medium through which it could be artfully expressed. Long, serene, notes fractured and broke, falling, like autumn leaves as the discordance of the darker, more intense, emotions swept the room, drawing upon memories, feelings that, for her, embodied the very music that echoed from within. The bow slid harshly over the strings, eliciting a strange series of fragments that clashed and churned against one another before fading, slowly, into the energized silence that blanketed the hall. She paused, bow raised, allowing the last, distant, echoes to paint their presence on the lives of her audience, before drawing it back over softly, gently, as if tiptoeing on eggshells. A small hum emerged from the silence, growing swiftly as the bow travelled, until finally a rich, melodious, sound fluttered through the air.
She smiled as the cello sang, notes long and beautiful sailing through the accommodating atmosphere, filling her with a joy most seldom experienced. This was where she belonged, this was home. This sound, this cello, this music…in no other way was she so truly at peace with the world, with herself. This felt right, was right, and the people who watched her knew it, felt it, longed to experience it themselves. As they listened they yearned, and for a moment, a speck of time, perhaps the barest, tiniest, glimpse into this joy, this peace, this utter contentment, was granted. But it was never enough. They longed to know that passion, yet feared they never would, and never could. The dreary despair of their mundane lives filled them with such dread, such horror, such ironic apathy for the world; they could scarcely fathom an escape. And so they watched, and envied, and hopelessly basked in the radiance of her music, the closest they’d ever been to true tranquility.
But all things come to an end. And as the last notes died and gave way to the stillness, the silence, they rose up clapping and crying and proudly resisting the urge to break down, to show weakness, to show want. For to want is to need, and to need is to recognize a lacking within yourself, a fundamental flaw within your soul. And when the curtains closed and the lights went on, the serenity vanished, the icy cold fingers of reality jerking, yanking, eyes were dried surreptitiously amongst a cacophony of sneezing and coughing as they shuffled back to their hollow, empty, lives.
And the cellist? Well, her serenity lasted but a moment longer, lingering with the fading music that resonated in her soul. All that was left was a memory, a shadow, gone beyond the point of retrieval. But she would feel again, every performance was different, unique, and it was only a matter of time before she could lose herself to the music she so passionately loved. For it was a part of her, her soul, it always had been, and it always would be.