Laying Handel Bare and Bold
November 12, 2010
From Cassock and Chasuble
November 19, 2010

When I was 16, passionately oblivious to negativity, I remember locking myself in my basement bedroom and turning off the lights. In my CD player was one of the only CDs I owned. It was probably the only CD I needed.

On Sunday evenings and odd winter days, it played over and over again—softly at first, then climbing to a furied crescendo. As it climbed, my arms flew furiously in the air, conducting in chaotic rhythm—the rush of the bows over the strings of a dozen violins; the billow and bark of persistent brass, ushering to a charge; the airy notes of a grand piano swimming in and out of melody and tangent.

Yanni Live at the Acropolis

Until at the last, I pictured the furrowed brows of the orchestra furrow further. In quiet anticipation, the notes dropped, then soared, punctuated by billowing drums and sharp pricks of high-pitched violins. The audience gasped, holding their collective breath for moments, and moments, and moments more. Suddenly, the entire venue crashed into a pulsating thunder clap with the chorus of trumpets, horns, violins, drums, piano, flute, and pure, sweat-drenched energy. As she unfurled, that final thunderous voice of the song, the smile on the conductor issued softly. —it was, at last, the glorious end.

My God! These are the moments when I can forget about all else and endure in music alone. These are the moments when I am reassured and can see, once again, what really matters in all the filth. Everyone has their song, their transcendent tune—and this one is mine.

In case you’re wondering, the CD was Yanni, live at the Acropolis. And despite the laughter that ensues every time I share that, it remains one of my most cherished collections of music. It reminds me why I’m here, and what matters outside the drudge of everyday life. Why? Because it never fails to buoy me up regardless of where I am in life.

I recommend you sit back and listen to one song in particular: Nostalgia. If you find yourself unmoved (violent conducting in your bedroom not necessary), then find a song that does move you. I cannot believe that music fails to impart a rich recollection of our essence. But as it is with almost all things, the sort of music that resurrects you is one that you must find on your own.

But by God, find it. And sooner rather than later.


  1. Mom says:

    Love it! And I like the idea of obliviousness to negativity:)

  2. Jeanie says:

    One of my most favorite memories is watching you conduct madly in your bedroom at our apartment. Love you!

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