I was exposed to the arts at a very early age. My mother was a culture hound, a theatre maven, dance snob, museum lover. She adored it all and she prided herself on knowing what was playing on Broadway, the prima ballerinas of The American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, art exhibits at The Met, The MOMA (when it was built!) and The Museum of The City of New York. She was a classy lady, refined, polished and she exposed me at a very early age to the beauty of it all. How lucky I was to be a child growing up in a major city, with the opportunity to savor it all, sense it, see it through my own childlike wonder.
I saw my first Broadway musical at six years old. It was Flower Drum Song (funny to think of now that “Crazy Rich Asians” is a smash hit!) I saw many more to come through the years, The Music Man”, “Carnival”, “The Unsinkable Molly Brown”, “Camelot”, and “Bye Bye Birdie.” I loved every one of them and knew the music by heart! I danced in the living room to the music that I listened to over and over on our hi fi set. (now, I’m really dating myself, if I haven’t already!)
I was taken to see The Nutcracker every Christmas and later modern dance as well as Alvin Ailey (much later on) My appreciation grew and grew. How lucky a kid I was to have experienced all this at such an early age!! My husband grew up in Norfolk, Virginia as a boy and while he had the Confederate Museum and battlefields of The Civil War, he didn’t have much else.
I have passed this on to my children who have an appreciation for the arts, for museums, for beauty that is created by one’s imagination. It is a special bond between us. I also have shared some amazing moments with dear friends who cherish the theatre as much as I do. To see Vanessa Redgrave in person with Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robert Sean Leonard, and Brian Dennehy is a once in a lifetime experience. Who knew Seymour would die so young?! “A Long Day’s Journey Into Night”, directed by Robert Falls (2003) My friend and I witnessed greatness on the stage never to be duplicated and we knew it! The standing ovations were like none I have ever seen.
This past weekend in the heart of The Berkshires (where I am only an hour away-how lucky am I!) my two college friends and I (another post is coming on friendship and the power of long lasting bonds) and I attended the Bernstein Centennial Finale at Tanglewood. Audra McDonald was the Mistress of Ceremonies and no less than five guest conductors took up the baton. John Williams, Michael Tilson Thomas, Andris Nelsons, Keith Lockhart to name a few, in addition to world class violinist Midori and cellist Yo- Yo Ma graced the stage paying homage to the legendary Lenny. If that wasn’t enough, nature set the atmospheric sky with a full moon and a lawn scattered with music lovers numbering 15,000! What a night! We looked at each other when it was over and knew we had witnessed magic! If you can, see it when it is broadcast on PBS in the near future.
Arts fill the soul, they give us meaning and bring beauty to what would otherwise be lifeless and dull.
“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” Pablo Picasso
‘If music be the food of love, play on” Shakespeare- Twelfth Night
.Stop and enjoy what is around you. If you are fortunate enough to be near museums, theatre, dance, experiment. Find what resonates in your heart.
‘We need our Arts to teach us how to breathe” Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing Tags
Thank you Muriel for this gift you gave me.