Tag Archive | Music

Maimonides’ prescription

photo by Timothy Stark

photo by Timothy Stark

Should I argue with someone acknowledged by all the world to have been a genius? Furthermore, why would I when I totally agree with him? Let’s face it, whenever people think as I do, I consider them geniuses anyway. (Ahem!)

The great philosopher, astronomer, scholar and physician, Maimonides, who lived from about 1138 until 1204, has been recognized throughout the ages as a real genius — which the guy certainly was. He moved in a prominent, important circle of society in Morocco and Egypt where he lived, and was a vital part of the history of Arab and Muslim sciences — which thrived then. And, yes, Maimonides was a Jew, but lucky for us, at that time he was a part of and worked closely with the top Arab thinkers around him.

Maimonides

Maimonides

In his medieval Spanish world, Maimonides, as a physician, recognized the importance of what today we might call ‘entertainment’ as a vital requirement for good health. He observed, and I quote: “Music, poetry, paintings and walks in pleasant surroundings all have a part to play towards being a happy person and the maintenance of good health.” Wow! He was a man after my own heart…

Maimonides' Statue in Cordoba

Maimonides’ Statue in Cordoba

Although I am nohow as clever as Maimonides, I’d add a few things I love to that list, but books were not that easily come by back then, and many people were unable to read and/or couldn’t afford them. I also spent years enjoying what I consider the ultimate challenge for actors — live theatre. It is impossible to beat the connection one feels with the actor on stage during a great performance. It is thrilling and remembered for years.

As someone who thoroughly enjoys the pleasures he believed in, I am

Maimonides' sculpture in U.S. Capitol

Maimonides’ sculpture in U.S. Capitol

committed to Maimonides’ prescription for well-being. The part of my income spent on such pleasures is, to my mind, an investment in my good health — surely as important as a visit to my fabulous and oh-so-clever and kind medical doctor. His list is also cheaper than and has less side effects than those provided by drug manufacturers.

Without a shred of guilt, I plunk down my credit card each year for season’s tickets to an eclectic and delightful ‘Music in the Morning’ concert series, as well as the ‘Live at the Met’ opera season coming directly to us from the New York Metropolitan Opera Company.

Both seasons are about over right now so they are on my mind, but I will be one of the first in line to purchase my tickets for next year. Can I afford it? Can I afford NOT to afford it? My health is at stake!

The health of my dear friends who share these pleasures with me is at stake as well! Besides, we go out for lunch afterwards for food and interesting conversation and what can give us more than that?

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Music in the Morning: A marvelous start to the day.

Music in the Morning

Finally got out to a “Music in the Morning” concert yesterday. Have been home nursing a very painful knee for weeks. Hurrah! I made it! it is my favorite music series and I always purchase season’s tickets. I love the intimacy of their  music concerts. I’m a morning person — it’s a great combination. We, in Vancouver, are truly blessed to have this splendid musical morning opportunity. Colin Carr, noted cellist, performed.

The cello is not my absolute favorite string instrument. The viola can tear at my heart as no other string instrument can. However, in the right hands, the cello can reach me as well. And, this particularly priceless cello, made by Matteo Gofriller in Venice in 1730, was, indeed, in the right hands. (How does one deal with the responsibility of using such a precious instrument? And, how much does it have to be insured for? I shudder at the thought of today’s airlines, which did such a poor job transporting me so recently, dealing with such irreplaceable cargo.)

The program consisted of two of six Cello Suites, attributed to Johann Sebastian Bach, Suite #1 and #6. I say “attributed” because it is speculated that Anna Magdalena, Bach’s second wife, may have actually been the composer of this music, but I’ll leave it to true musicologists to argue and figure that out. It does, however, add to the mystery. Not much is known about this particular music, but Carr believes it may have been composed around 1730, the same time his cello was made.

Colin Carr is a world-class cellist, and has appeared throughout the world as a soloist, chamber musician, recording artist, and teacher. He did not let us down yesterday. I was thrilled on this, my first morning out (other than for medical visits). What a great way to re-enter the wonderful world out there.

A fellow music-lover, sitting next to me, commented on the oft-repeated concern about the “graying of the audiences”. As someone who has covered the performing arts, I’ve heard this again and again for years.

Cellist Colin Carr

Cellist Colin Carr

 I don’t necessarily think the reason audiences are so often “gray” is that younger people are not “interested” in attending. I think their priorities, of necessity, are elsewhere.

I certainly would have loved to attend theatre, dance, music and opera performances when I was young, but there were too many obstacles in the way. As a working wife and mother of young children there was the stress of keeping it all together, and the fact that money had to go elsewhere when available. I recall once, determined to see some theatre, I did buy season’s tickets to the Ahmanson Theatre (in Los Angeles) for my husband and myself. Of the five plays, we got to see two. The other three were totally wasted. Two because a child’s unexpected illness popped up at the last minute, too late to even give the tickets away. The third was missed because at the last minute again, I believe my husband felt he had to stay late at the office to catch up on something. I didn’t try again until the children were grown up.

I’m trying to make up for it now by attending both “Music in the Morning” and the “Live at the Met” opera film series. Neither requires me going out at night. These are pleasures I truly look forward to, and an additional pleasure has been the making of new and interesting good friends as a result. If you can, give it a try.