The End Is Where We Start From

For many people out there, retirement means being old, tired, and at the end of “a good run.” It means that the passion and effort for the job has been replaced by lethargic disinterest. I certainly thought this was the case for all retiring staff… until this past month.

After learning that our orchestra director would be retiring at the end of the year, I was at first more surprised than anything else. I had only known him for three years, and he always seemed to be such a lively and passionate man. Why would he be retiring? Is he getting tired of the job? So I took time during my school day to go to his office and have a chat with him. I’m very glad that I did.
He told me about his life, and the life of his son. He told me about how and why he had taken this job, and what the orchestra meant to him. He told me about how he feels about leaving, and most importantly, he told me the reason why he chose to leave.
The reason was unexpected, but strangely understandable, in the same way that breakups are sometimes unexpected yet understandable. And it did not have anything to do with being tired of his job, getting too old, or even losing passion. In fact, his attitude towards the orchestra is still the same smiling face, exuding friendliness and love for all his students. Every rehearsal since the announcement of his retirement has been merit to his continuing, unfaltering dedication. The reason for his retirement, in fact, did not have anything to do with his job as the director of our orchestra. He simply wanted to try something new in his life.
Remarkably, he has no idea what he will end up doing. He simply knows that he wants to pursue something new, whether it be music arrangement or computer science. I can’t imagine how it feels to be so free, to be able to follow whatever paths life gives you, without fear or unhealthy attachment. There is, of course, difficulty for him in leaving this orchestra that he loves so much. You couldn’t sit through a rehearsal without him not only telling us, but showing us how much he loves us. It must have been immensely difficult, to wake up one morning and say, “I’m going to be leaving this orchestra.” But I admire him more for his willingness to take another step in a new direction, no matter how foggy or cloudy that new road may be.
Which brings me to the events of tonight: our very last concert with our director, riddled by speeches recognizing him and his work. Between the Duke Elington Medley, Copland, and Dvořák, students and staff made time to thank him for the legacy that he will be leaving. And while many will walk away, so gently humming the melody of Nimrod, from his final performance of the orchestra, I will savor the memory as the night that began a new chapter in his life.
To our amazing director and the orchestra, I leave you with these words from T. S. Eliot: “What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.”

Poetry

I stumbled across this video while doing some poetry research (and by research I mean going around and listening to/reading great poetry). I’ve also been having quite a few conversations with my poet friend because of my recent interest in choral music and the poetry in them. All this talk of poetry may lead you to believe that I love poetry, which is certainly true. I’ve always found poetry to be inspiring when written or performed well. Writing poetry is also another pastime of mine; I sometimes resort to writing poetry during times of hardship when writing music is not possible.

Anyhow, even if you hate poetry, you should still give this video a listen. The poems performed here are relevant, well-crafted, and most of all inspiring. If you don’t have the time to listen to the whole clip, at least watch the third poem (8:35). I don’t think I’ve ever heard a more brilliant poem in my life.

Another Year Passes By

Last night, our high school’s concert band gave another great concert. We played pieces including Eric Whitacre’s Ghost Train and Sleep, and Divertimento for Winds and Percussion by Roger Cichy. The flute octet performed a lovely arrangement of Debussy’s Clair de Lune, and the woodwind quintet performed Roaring Fork by Eric Ewazen.

The year was a busy one, with two other concerts that we had already given, numerous football games that we played for, and a parade that we have yet to attend. But the last concert of the year is always a special one. It’s the time when we thank our band director for all that she’s done for us. It’s the time when we recognize our Seniors who have been with us for four years and send them off with a heartfelt goodbye. It’s the time when we pat each other on the back and laugh about the mistakes we’ve made.

“Life gives us brief moments with another, but sometimes in those brief moments we get memories that last a lifetime.” This was the quote that our band director chose to share with our Seniors this year. It could not possibly be more true. These brief moments that we share in band every day add up to something greater, something larger than all of us. And when we look back upon these high school years, I think many of us will find that we’re smiling because of a memory from band. I know I sure will.

Whether it be the beauty of the music we play, the skills of the musicians we have, or the dedication of the director that leads us all, our band is comprised of some very special things that make our not-so-little group what it is today. Wherever life may lead us next, be it on separate roads or even opposite paths, we know that the bond created here last night will last within each of us. And that, surely, is the magic of music.