By Sydney Gay
The most loving exciting teachers in my seventy-nine years of life have been musicians who faced danger, loss and sorrow without losing faith in God. For example, the Denver Symphony Orchestra invited friends and families of the fifteen students murdered in 1999 at Columbine to the Nazarene Church for a memorial concert. I arrived early and watched families frozen with fear take their seats. Instead of playing traditional church hymns the orchestra began with Bach’s Fugue in D Minor, then Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony followed by Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in C sharp minor which he wrote at the age of nineteen.
After that a finale which stunned. As conductor, Jerry Nelson, raised his baton, a huge video screen lit up with a scene from the 1997 movie Titanic; his orchestra played My Heart will Go On as Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio stood on the bow of the ship with their arms opened to all the mystery of love and life.
The lyrics were well known, “Every night in my dreams I see you, I feel you. That is how I know you go on. far across the distance and space between us… wherever you are I believe the heart does go on.” The gorgeous depth of this music entrenched so firmly into the consciousness of every person in the room that I could feel grief being released in a way that was absolutely divine.
After this a new opportunity came to meet courageous people. I flew to Port-au-Prince Haiti, a French speaking jungle island where Nazarene volunteers are invited to build schools, hospitals, and orphanages. Haiti is the only country in the world with a government dedicated to the voodoo religion. Marie Laveau, the Queen of Voodoo, was born in New Orleans. Voodoo didn’t scare me. New Orleans is where I was born.
The next day we went to a children’s concert in Port-au-Prince. Volunteers from the Boston Symphony Orchestra taught ten-to fourteen-year-old kids how to play Bach, Beethoven and Mozart Every piece was performed with enthusiastic perfection. One year later they were invited to debut in Carnegie Hall, every seat sold within a week. Courage, faith, fearless generosity made all of it possible.
Ajijic: Twenty-two years ago music composer Victor Manuel Medeles began CREM, a Lakeside children’s choir with orchestral training. Until the pandemic, CREM had sixty students, instructors and tutors, orchestra, choir, chamber group and ensemble training with generous support from the English-speaking community. Although this support seems to have faded away, children performing classical music brings joy to the entire Lakeside community; discipline, courage and faith stays alive when families are struggling to survive. Professional guidance is needed to allow the children’s orchestra to continue.
For more information about Lake Chapala visit: www.chapala.com