If music could save the world

IMG_5245First off, stoked to hear that the BC Government has officially rejected the Northern Gateway Project. Knowing that the suits at Enbridge are currently sweating buckets is excellent news heading into the weekend. On a broader note, a lot has been happening in my life. Nearly all of it good. It also feels like it’s been a while since I had a date with the awe-inspiring WordPress blog interface, so in many ways I feel like I am discovering it anew. Thus, before I get into the main post, allow me to go over some things that are going on with me these days/ are somewhat relavent to past entries.

  • Izzy is still alive. He appears to be very happy and is eating roughly a colony’s worth of dried mosquito larvae on a daily basis. The plants in his tank are not doing as hot. (Surprise, surprise.)
  • I’m reading an interesting book called A Few Short Notes on Tropical Butterflies. It’s a collection of short stories (I don’t know if it actually falls under the category of ‘anthology’ though since the tales are all sort of connected in theme) and would highly recommend it. Especially to those who like to read en route to work but find that a 15-minute bus ride does not provide sufficient time or comfort to indulge in a novel with more than a few characters.
  • The BBC One series Sherlock is amazing. I have just seen the first episode and the only criticism I have thus far is that it lacked fish. No doubt this will be remedied in episodes to come.
  • Some of my FC colleagues recently evaluated the economic benefits of shark ecotourism and how these compares to the value of sharks killed for food and fins. Interesting read for anyone who likes sharks and/ or ideas on marine conservation. Check it out here.
  • I am no longer single. This is undoubtedly the biggest news, although it probably comes as no surprise to anyone at the Fisheries Centre. Or anyone in general. I don’t really want to get too detailed with my personal life (amazingly, when it comes to anything beyond eHarmony, I am surprisingly shy and private with matters of the heart), although I assume I will ultimately get over this in the posts ahead. So for now, I’ll touch on it only briefly.

I don’t really know why it took me so long, but I guess it was probably influenced by the fact that I’m particularly picky with men (as already discussed), and that I tend to do things backward and become best friends with a guy before realizing that I actually want something a bit more. And sometimes I’m just a stubborn idiot. Anyway, this was a case of all of the above. Luckily, when you start dating your best friend, not only do you already know that they make you insanely happy, and that you can be at complete ease around them, but you’ve already got events planned together for well into the future. In fact, Wilf and I bought tickets to Ludovico Einaudi back in February. So, as anti-climactic as that sounds, I couldn’t have asked for better circumstances under which I could see my favourite modern classical musician perform.

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The first time I ever heard Einaudi’s music, I cried. I’m not even ashamed to admit it. And I don’t mean that I was in a mellow mood and some sappy lovey-dovey or broken-hearted lyrics fuelled a pre-existing sadness. (Of course I’d cried while listening to music before, but until that point, I’d never cried directly as a result of the music to which I was listening). The opening bars of ‘Nuvole Bianche’ are equal parts grace, strength, and imagination. They take you to another world. I remember sitting in my apartment in Guelph, watching a clip that someone had put up on facebook. It was a fantastic time lapse video. And while the images were breathtaking scenes of nature, it was Einaudi’s music that truly gave them life.

I’ve always had a particular proclivity for piano pieces, but I felt like there was an energy in his work that transcended the notes of the instrument itself. I quickly learned that this wasn’t even the full song, and that Einaudi had lots of earlier work. So, for the last couple years, I have been enjoying his music to the fullest. And while I’m encouraged to see the view counts for his songs on YouTube, I find it interesting that Einaudi’s incredible compositions are unknown to pretty much everyone I know here. In fact, up until last Saturday, I’d met a grand total of one person who had heard ever of him. Like me, this person was also a pretty big fan. But he was also European, so I feel like that doesn’t count. Why does no one in Canada (or at least Vancouver) know Einaudi’s work? Are our heads too embedded in the sands of Pitchfork to care about an artist that doesn’t have a certain hipster appeal? I don’t mean to take away from these bands, as I enjoy listening to many of them. I guess I just don’t think people should be vortexed into listening to only one genre or style of music. And what is it about classical music in particular that scares so many people away? Is it still supposed to be for old people, airport lounges, and funerals? Does a lack of lyrics and thus a wider spectrum of potential emotion and interpretation scare people? Are the composer’s names just too difficult to pronounce, and the song names too riddled with numbers and orchestral terminology to remember? I’m not quite sure. And yet, in some ways I feel this disconnect from mainstream society is what makes a modern classical musician’s music even more special; like a secret between old friends. I think that it’s impossible to listen to Einaudi’s work and not feel something special. And I want more people to know about him because I feel like there are so many people in the world who could use something special in their lives.

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It would be no stretch to say that I’d never been so excited for a concert in my life. Despite being a pretty big sentimentalist on the inside, I’m also pretty chill most of the time and thus tend to be decent at keeping my shit together in public places. Not with Einaudi. The moment he touched the keys of his piano last Saturday, I was a goner. And, truth be told, I was a mess all night. (On the bright side, I am now convinced that CoverGirl’s LashBlast 24 hour mascara could easily withstand the outflow of the Three Gorges Dam). For over two and a half hours we had the privilege of being in the audience of one of the most talented pianists alive, and I really cannot remember the last time I enjoyed live music— any music—so much. It was beautiful to watch someone be so in touch with the capabilities of their instrument, and so in love with playing to its full potential. Listening to him almost made me believe that something as simple as a song could actually change the world.

The Chan Centre was pretty much sold out, and when we found our seats, mine was beside was a guy with a military-type crew cut, dressed in a Canadian tuxedo and plaid shirt. He was sitting alone, but his appearance gave me the impression of some macho guy whose artistic girlfriend had dragged him along for the night. However, no one ever joined him. I was too afraid to look over at him much during the concert because I assumed my face resembled that of a cheetah, but at the end of the show, he and I were the loudest people in the place. Upon leaning over and commenting on the quality of the performance, I learned that this guy had driven all the way from Saskatoon for the sole purpose of seeing Einaudi perform. It was one of those moments in life that catches you completely off-guard and makes you incredibly happy to be wrong.

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In the same way that I tend to avoid heavy metal songs with lyrics that are inaudible and (in my opinion) nothing more than screaming, I understand that there are some who find the pace or sound of classical music boring. This is fine. I don’t understand it, but I won’t judge; to each their own. However, if you are the type to enjoy an instrumental piece every now and again, you will not regret getting ahold of some of Einaudi’s music. I wish I could explain it better, but perhaps it’s best conveyed by saying that when Wilf asked me if I could see either Josh Ritter or Einaudi again the following night, I replied that there was no comparison. I know that Josh is without a doubt one of the best folk musicians and lyricists around, but when it comes down to it, Einaudi is simply a genius.

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