“Ode Saffica” for the 21st century

StCecilia

As of late, I have been immersed in my writing and continue to ponder my mentor, the philosopher/poet/composer and most controversial “scapigliato”, Arrigo Boito.  In 1863, Boito wrote a Sapphic Ode to art in which he addressed the state of opera post Risorgimento.  He often wrote emotionally about art, and perhaps we don’t do this enough.  When one is engulfed in the trials and tribulations of academic research and writing, it is usually unnecessary to write emotionally, but factually.  Perhaps I’ve reached my boiling point and need to be emotional about my art and I chose to do it here.  Maybe I’ve been influenced by Boito…or maybe I have come to understand him so much so that I’ve chosen to adopt his “disheveled attitude.”

Art and the properties that define it swing on a constantly shifting pendulum.  But, what it is that controls the motion of that pendulum, where it stops and where it ends, where it pauses, and how quickly it shifts from side to side?  From the onset of this all-encompassing art, the shifting has been unavoidable, sometimes welcome, sometimes dreaded, but always, always a constant.  The one thing you can be sure of in art is that things are in constant flux.

Many nights I lay down my heavy mind, filled with continuous thought, and ponder this art and my place within it.  I suppose we all question our places within any grand structure to which we play part.  Simply, without it I would not want to live.  There is nothing to hear if music not be present; if the human voice were to end its plentiful expression, as it were, what else would there be for me?  To some, maybe this is too serious a proclamation.  To them, I say, “art is life.”  To them I say in the words of Adorno, “We do not speak to music, music speaks to us.  And, when we think ourselves closest to it, it lingers and waits sad eyed for us to answer.”

Have you ever stood next to a human being whose body vibrates with the splendid energy that the singing voice exudes?  A metaphysical entity if ever there was one, it is from this world and yet from another.  Consequently, I have had this opportunity to stand next to voices that bleed golden shimmer from within their fiery souls.  It is in those moments that I am humbled and awestruck to serve this art that is often surrounded by media and popular culture.  Art is not autonomous and yet it could exist as such.  For me, this is religion.  This is sacred for me.  Somedays I feel completely unworthy; others, ready to fight for the truth that art retains within its deepest self.  And how, you might ask, do we find that truth? Open yourself and expose yourself in the most vulnerable of ways, sing from your soul without shame, care not what others say or what critics think is right or wrong, maintain the values of those whose art you perform, and always, always with the most fragile and courageous love.

When someone you love is gone, and you hear music….does your heart not cry the most painful of melodies? When you fall in love and you hear music, does not every song you hear remind you of that person? How music plays in the soundtrack of our lives….and how often are we oblivious to it?

When the violin weeps its last, when the piano’s soundboard resonates for the last time, when the tubas growl no more, when the timpani are silent, and when the voice has exhaled its last vibrant exaltation, what remains….is love.  O’ gentle and destructive art, wise are you to select your warriors.  I, for one, kneel in humble respect of you that overwhelms me every day of my life.  Your devoted servant……

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Published in: on October 24, 2009 at 1:49 am  Leave a Comment  
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