I was going to write you about the most inspiring concert I’ve ever been to. Black Violin played in Portland last February. The place, the fancy Arlene Schnitzer Hall (for the Dutch people on this mailing list – Portland’s version of Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw) was PACKED. I had never been to a concert in the Schnitz with that few white haired people, and with that diverse an audience. There were teenagers sitting next to me dancing in and out of their chairs.
The four musicians on stage were each stellar. I’d never seen a DJ on stage in a classic concert hall. I know nothing about DJ-ing, but I knew this guy was phenomenal in how he danced with the vinyl. The drummer (Daru Jones?) was a joy to watch and listen too; solo’s like I’ve never ever heard drum solo’s before. Wil Baptiste (viola) and Kev Marcus (violin) were string power houses indeed!!! They played hip-hop, R&B, pop, rock, you name it, they played it. Meticulously! And you know what? When they asked the audience if they wanted to hear something classical a few thousand people screamed YEAH!!!! I’ve never seen that many cool youngsters thrilled to hear Bach. And as much excitement and outbursts of sheer joy were flying through that concert hall, you could have heard a pin needle drop during the violin solo.
The musicians met in high school in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Their instruments got them full scholarships in college. They are classically trained and break all stereotypes. Check out their album with that name. What an inspiration!
And then their encore: Bravo Youth Orchestra whom Sing Portland! has supported as long as we’ve been singing, joined them on stage. The kids played their own, sweet version of “It’s a gift to be simple” and then… Black Violin joined them and rocked the house once more. What a night! I was so excited for the kids on stage and their families. What an experience. What a gift that music has brought into their lives!!!!. Rosa Parks School has one of the largest low income families in school. Their test scores are the lowest in town. And those kids are offered new opportunities with free classical music lessons every day, for hours.
I could end my blog post right here, right? Support music education wherever you can. It’s easy to make a difference in the world. All is well.
But I also want to tell you about the most touching play I’ve ever been to. Pianist of Willesden Lane at Portland Center Stage… For the first time in my life I walked out of a theater in tears. I was so deeply touched by the true story of a 14 year old girl aspiring to become a pianist in Vienna as WWII breaks out. It was the story of my grandmother. The pianist played my grandmother’s music. My grandmother wasn’t Jewish. That doesn’t make her story less painful. For five years she didn’t know where her husband was. She raised two children in occupied Holland as a pianist and cellist.
The play touched me deeply with its sadness AND its humor. I remember stories of how much fun my mom had dressing up her brother as a girl, so she could transport him to a hiding place. And I was in tears because I was disturbed by the fact that millions of people experience horrific darkness still. Today.
After the play I started asking myself what acts of kindness I send into the world. I’m raising two children born to a homeless cocaine addict whom I deeply respect and love. Would that count? Hell no! If anyone ever would pat me on the back for that, you’d call me a savior and turn my children into victims. No thank you! They are just two beautiful human beings who have their own stories to live and tell.
Can we see all seven billion of us as beautiful people with stories to live and tell? Can we see we’re one? Can we see that someone else’s suffering is our suffering? That someone else’s joy is our joy? Human life comes with trials, some seemingly unbearable. But we can always spread random acts of kindness. Kindness is not a one time act. Kindness is a mindset. An awareness. It’s acknowledging abundance wherever you see it. It’s sharing abundance. It’s holding on to the light. (Or in the words of the play, it’s holding on to the music!) It’s making eye contact with a beggar. It’s saying thank you to a stranger holding the door for you. It’s supporting the people who make the world a better place. You have hundreds of opportunities every day.
Enjoy spreading random acts of kindness today and every day!!!