Monday Musical Moment: Music For Peace

Justin Langham   -  
Good morning and happy Monday!
As I walked around walking my dog this morning, I couldn’t help but enjoy the beautiful Spring weather that Houston has given us. Albeit only a few weeks out of the year, but I am grateful nonetheless! Since my doctoral work is mostly behind me as of a week or two ago, I notice that I walk with a much lighter proverbial load than I did before, and that am enjoying things like a morning walk much more. I am able to enjoy a peaceful moment, rather than my usual feeling of rushing from one thing to the next, or “oh my goodness Risa (my dog’s name) hurry up and go so I can get back to typing furiously on my laptop all day!”
We all need peace in our lives. It’s an essential part of living with others in society, but also finding happiness living with oneself. I’ve always had trouble with the latter, being pulled by our culture that rewards productivity and business, even at the sake of one’s personal well-being. But we need moments of peace to help recover mental and physical strength, and one of the many ways I try to find it… you likely know where I’m going with this… is through music.
I, like many others, have music for every occasion. Music for waking up, music for cooking (Sinatra, of course), music for exercise, music for driving, music when I’m happy, music when I’m sad, music for comfort, and countless others. Music has a unique power to enhance our individual experience of particular moments in life, whether in a concert hall, drive alone in your car, or in a service on Sunday morning. Some music latches on to you and you can still relive it years later.
The piece I would like to share with you is one I heard live here in Houston in one of the first Houston Symphony concerts I attended after moving here in 2013. They performed Rachmaninov’s amazing second symphony, and when they came to the slow third movement, I remember being completely enthralled by the gorgeous melodies and lush harmonies. A feeling of calm came over me and I felt at peace. It has been a favorite piece of mine ever since.
The opening of the movement is relatively unique in my mind. Most slow movements open softly and develop the material more gradually before a climactic moment, but you’ll notice that Rachmaninov dives right in! The first sounds heard is an immdiate swell of the strings that erupts into a moment of pure passion. The music then subsides and makes way for a heart-breakingly gorgeous clarinet solo. If you need 15 minutes of calming, I highly recommend this this piece!
If you would like to hear more peaceful music, this Sunday evening at 6:00pm in the Chapel of the Resurrection on the First UMC Missouri City campus, the Missouri City Chamber Singers will be presenting their Spring program, “Songs for Peace.” We will explore the meaning and importance of peace through a combination of music and spoken word, and will be joined by violinist Dr. Jackson Guillen. I hope you will join us!
Have a wonderful and peaceful week!