A few years ago I lived in Leavenworth, WA for a summer while working with Leavenworth Summer Theatre. It was a great summer of music making and tons of hiking. As a Pacific Northwest boy I have always found the beauty of nature profoundly inspiring and have struggled emotionally and spiritually during the times when I lived away from the lush green and magnificent mountains of Western Washington.
Stuart Lake was one of my earlier hikes during the summer. The trail had been beautiful the whole way, but when I came around this corner it felt like walking into a wall of glory. It stopped me in my tracks, brought tears to my eyes and nearly made me fall to my knees. I don’t know why in that moment I was given a glimpse of heaven, of the perfection we were made for, but it has stuck with me for approximately a decade. It wasn’t the beauty of nature that was profound, although it is a beautiful spot, it was the experience of having the veil between this life and the next being parted for a moment, to see what the world is meant to be. It’s not nature that is overwhelmingly beautiful, it is the intangible something more that we all long for and sense in different aspects of our lives at different times. For some it is the dessert, for some a single cell through a microscope, but for me, lush forest and mountains haul back and slaps me in the face with a glimpse of glory and I am profoundly thankful.
In this time of struggle that we are all facing, I wanted to find a way to share some hope and joy. The news and social media are overwhelmingly dark, and the world seems to be swallowed in fear.
Even so, there is hope.
I have been inspired and moved by those around me who are seeking creative ways to improve the lives of our community, drawing people together despite our necessary physical isolation.
One of my core beliefs, what drives me to be a musician, is that we are all created for perfection, the sublime. From time to time we are granted glimpses of beauty so potent we could weep, or moments so peaceful and perfect we long to stop time. For me, music and nature are the most consistent providers of these moments. As a conductor, most of my art and creation requires the gathering of large numbers of people, so I will endeavor to share something musical or otherwise each day that inspires or encourages me in the hope of blessing others.
Day 1: An Alpine Symphony – Richard Strauss (“Sunrise” in particular)
As someone who is deeply influenced by nature and loves Strauss’ compositional style, I am moved every time I hear “Sunrise” from An Alpine Symphony. The image of the sun coming searing over mountain peaks stirs my soul and I feel Strauss captured that beautifully. Admittedly the rest of the piece can be a bit overmuch but I still deeply enjoy it.
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