The golden luminance of the setting sun is sparkling all around me as I write this to you from the rocking chair of my back porch, welcoming you to this course. Welcome! I am so happy you are here!
There is something powerful and profound about light and about music. Both speak to humanity on a universal level, transcending language and culture. Both can inspire us, awaken us, deepen our wonder or evoke a sense of quiet calm.
Humans are hardwired to respond to music. Classical music has been shown to soothe us, to relax us, and to ease pain. Scientists suggest it has a healing effect on our bodies. Music and song have been a part of the human experience since the beginning of time. They are woven into the fabric of the cosmos.
Musicologist Elena Mannes says, “Even the Earth has a hum. Even black holes sing.”
When we help our children develop a lifelong love for and appreciation of music, we give them an abiding gift.
But why listen to the music of Mozart specifically? It’s beautiful, it’s captivating, it’s enduring. Mozart’s music enthralled listeners over 250 years ago and is even more popular today. It is an ever-present part of our culture played in light-hearted jingles and majestic symphonies. It has been featured in films from romantic comedies to action thrillers and dramas.
On the first anniversary of 9/11, Mozart’s final Requiem was sung by almost 200 choirs from all over the world. The first performance began in New Zealand at 8:46 a.m., the precise time that the first plane crashed into the World Trade Center. Performances continued across the world, over 25 time zones, always beginning at this same time. It was named the Rolling Requiem. For 24 hours, the spirit of Mozart’s music circled the planet, uniting the world in a way words never could.
Reading about the life of Mozart further endears us to him and his music. Our children see he was a real human being, just like they are, not as a caricature with a flowing coat and big white wig. They begin to know him as a friend. In many ways, he was like them – a child who played with his cat, who experienced homesickness, who loved his sister.
Alongside of Mozart, I have woven in the stories of others who, through grit and perseverance, left their own unique mark on the world. Can one bring light and hope by playing the drums or by drawing birds or by doing math? Yes! They can and they did! When our passion intersects with our giftedness, a dynamic synergy is ignited. When this power and potential is used for good, it results in a luminous offering to the world.
We will be reading the poetry of Wendell Berry each day as part of this course. In doing so we add another layer of richness and depth to our experience. Berry encouraged his children to look and see. Sometimes we look, but do we really see? Together we are going to look and see. We will taste and experience.
We will slow down and immerse ourselves in experiential learning. As the music washes over us. As we make with our hands. As we recite poetry and paint with watercolors. As we read the stories of inspiring world changers and allow them to take root in our hearts.
It is my hope that the light of these stories and experiences will add radiance to your days. May the light of those who have courageously gone before us brighten and strengthen your own. May we each walk more freely and more boldly in the light, in the direction we were created to go. May we and those we touch become more dazzling, more radiant as a result. The world needs more light! Shine on!
In deepest gratitude,