FREDERICK: Classical music triggers colossal thinking

Ryan Frederick

On Sunday afternoon, the ISU community was treated to a fine concert by its orchestra. Under new director Ruth Lin, lecturer in music, the orchestra’s 60-plus members form an ensemble of musical talent well worth listening to, even for people unaccustomed to hearing the type of music they play.

Some are sure to ask: Why should I go to an orchestra concert? Why should I spend 90 minutes on a Sunday afternoon listening to music written by long-dead composers? What makes this worth my time?

In the age of the iPod, satellite radio and multimillion-dollar sell-out rock concerts, an orchestra concert can seem like an anachronism at first. Indeed, it is perhaps the case that this is a symptom of our society’s obsession with instant gratification.

But not all orchestra concerts are long, drawn-out affairs. Sunday afternoon’s ISU orchestra concert was a perfect example: the program consisted of a pair of pieces, C. M. von Weber’s “Oberon Overture” and Antonin Dvorak’s “New World Symphony,” and lasted scarcely more than an hour.

Many people have formed an image of classical music, which, upon questioning, has generally been formed without ever hearing the music or attending a concert.

Any genre of music – rock, country, folk, R&B – can theoretically be described as boring, outdated and strange by a person who has never made an honest attempt to listen to it.

Unfortunately for our modern ears, our current culture and society is such that we no longer actively promote music of the classical genre outside of arts programs and music schools, and instead promote music by drug addicts (The Beach Boys, etc.), drug dealers (50 Cent, etc.) and miscellaneous ex-convicts.

Who would have guessed, then, that we live in a society with a pandemic drug problem, where one out of every 32 adults is either incarcerated, on parole or on probation?

As with any music, classical music has the innate ability to communicate – to touch people, if only it is allowed to do so. Given the opportunity, classical music has been known to inspire, soothe, relax and even motivate some of the greatest minds in human history.

From the German poet Wolfgang von Goethe: “A phenomenon like Mozart remains an inexplicable thing.”

From British rocker Sting: “Bach’s music is simply timeless.”

From the great German physicist Albert Einstein: “What do I have to say about Bach’s life work? Listen to it, play it, love it, adore it.”

The list goes on and on. Maybe – just maybe – this music is worth a try.

Best of all, the ISU orchestra provides the ISU community with the perfect venue for experiencing this profound music.

Performing in Martha-Ellen Tye Recital Hall in Music Hall on campus, the orchestra is composed entirely of our fellow students. Rehearsing as an ensemble four hours each week, in addition to many hours in the practice rooms of Music Hall, these students strive to impart the best performances possible.

In the words of Lin, “One of the things I enjoy the most about being here is that the students are so willing to participate and so helpful. They work quite hard.”

We should honor this hard work with some attendance.

So, what do you say? Next ISU orchestra concert is Nov. 12 at 7:30 p.m. See you there!

Ryan Frederick is a senior in management from Orient.