I borrowed my blog title this week from Louis Armstrong because I quite agree. Music is the universal language understood by all of mankind.
There is something affirming about being surrounded by others all enjoying and sharing the same music. I cannot imagine a life without music.
No wonder 14 million fans were outraged when Ticket Master messed up last year, and those fans couldn’t get tickets to Taylor Swift’s next tour. My daughter-in-law was one of those. She was understandably frustrated and disappointed.
Now that we can all sit together again, shoulder to shoulder, at concerts in stadiums, night clubs, theaters, churches, neighborhood pubs, and all kinds of music venues, I’m looking forward to a year of music … going to live concerts and performances – big and small.
As I write this, my husband and I have tickets to three concerts in January, four in February, one in March, and a music festival in April. And I’m not going to stop there!
There is so much variety in music, so many different genres, and so many different venues for enjoying music. From stadiums that hold tens of thousands of people to small clubs with a 40-person capacity, there is always a sense of togetherness in a music experience.
As a teen I saw several of my favorite 60s rock groups at the Steel Pier in Atlantic City. That venue no longer exists. Too bad … because listening to rock at the beach was kind of a teen rite of passage. My favorite group I saw there was Herman’s Hermits.
In my 20s I went to concerts at the Spectrum in Philadelphia. The Spectrum was an indoor stadium that held nearly 40,000 people for concerts. It opened in 1967 and closed in 2009. During it’s heyday I saw Elton John and Emerson, Lake & Palmer perform there! Those are concerts I’ll never forget!
I like so many different kinds of music. When I was still in high school, I sometimes rode along with an upperclassman friend to go to the Harrisburg Symphony concerts at the Forum in Harrisburg. I no longer remember which symphonies, concertos, and overtures they played but I do remember the experience. I loved those seconds of anticipation when the conductor takes the podium, before he raises the baton and the music starts.
For more than a decade, from the late ‘70s to late ‘80s, I had season tickets to the Baltimore Symphony concerts at the Meyerhoff Hall in Baltimore. People would get there early to enjoy a glass of champagne before the concert. We had box seats, spacious and comfortable, in a box we shared with 18 other people.
Like us they were season ticket holders and we got to know them in a casual way and looked forward to seeing them year after year at every concert. Going to the BSO was a dressy occasion and having a wardrobe of evening clothes to wear was just another fun part of the experience.
In the summer the Baltimore Symphony played outdoors at Oregon Ridge. I went to those concerts too. The music was a mix of light classical and symphonic pops. You took a blanket to spread on the ground, packed a picnic basket and a bottle of wine, and settled in for a casual evening of music under the stars. For July 4th they’d play “The 1812 Overture” complete with canons and fireworks. What fun!
In July of 1979 I was in Boston on a business trip. Decided to mix business with pleasure and bought tickets to the July 10th evening performance of the Boston Pops. That day the newspaper headline was that Arthur Fiedler, the longtime conductor of the pops, had died. I was dismayed. What about the concert I was to go to at Symphony Hall that night? But the concert went on without a hitch led by Assistant Conductor Harry Ellis Dickson.
As a tribute to Fiedler the concert opened with his signature tune, John Philip Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever”. But instead of a rousing sound they played it softly, and after a few bars Dickson left the stage and the orchestra continued the piece without a conductor as the audience all stood in honor of Fiedler and an American flag was unfurled on the stage. There wasn’t a dry eye in the place.
I’ve been to performances at Radio City Music Hall, Carnegie Hall, and Lincoln Center in New York City. At the Barbican Centre in London, the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., and the Benedum Center in Pittsburgh.
At Lancaster’s American Music Theatre I’ve heard The Moody Blues, Joe Cocker, and the Smothers Brothers. At the beautiful Hershey Theatre I’ve heard The Piano Guys and Straight No Chaser and heard The Piano Guys a second time at the spacious amphitheatre at Chatauqua, NY. And the many intimate jazz concerts presented by the Central PA Friends of Jazz.
I remember the Celtic concert at the Baltimore Convention Center and the Trans Siberian Railroad Christmas concert at the Hershey Stadium. Huge venues just packed with people … not an empty seat anywhere. Both were concerts I went to with really good friends I now haven’t seen in a long time.
I’ll bet that, like me, you have a long, long list of memories and experiences from the live music performances you’ve gone to. Are you going to make 2023 a year of new music experiences? I hope so. I can’t think of anything better than filling your life with music this coming year.
Music brings people together like nothing else can. All kinds of people! Maybe, just maybe, the world would be a better, more peaceful place if we replaced all the politicians with musicians. Think of the harmony!
“A live performance is a collaboration with the audience. You ride the ebb and flow of the crowd’s energy.”Jon Batiste
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