Someone once asked me that if I had the choice, would I prefer to go blind or to go deaf? Without hesitation I replied that I would rather go blind, and my inquisitor was shocked; not at my answer, but rather at my conviction. When pressed further as to why I would choose to lose my sight over my hearing, I simply answered, “Music.”
This sentiment was reinforced recently when I attended a concert by the Sea to Sky Wind Ensemble, a 50 piece orchestral band that I have been fortunate enough to have seen in concert several times in the past. However, this night they were not alone onstage, as the night opened with what must have been a nearly 70 piece student group called the WVYB Symphonic Band. Dressed in matching blue uniforms, these students opened the show with an impressive set considering their conductor was a last minute stand in. The Sea to Sky Wind Ensemble was next, playing their way through a diverse set list that featured local composers, mediative movements, and all around stunning pieces. I could have listened to them for hours, but all too soon it was over, and they relinquished the stage to their guests of honour.
Hailing from St. Tropez, France, the professional music ensemble La Croix Valmer came onstage after the intermission, and they played as if they never wanted to leave. Performing straight for over an hour and a half, they played piece after beautiful piece, highlighted by stunning solos from their rooster of extraordinarily talented musicians. You want a tuba solo complete with a dance routine? You got it. A saxophone solo that would make your heart swoon? Check. A clarinet solo that makes your head spin? Done. However, the thing that impressed me most about this group was simply how much fun they were having. The joy of these musicians radiated from the stage, and the pleasure and laughter they derived from performing was infectious, so much so that I had a great big goofy grin plastered on my face the entire time.
Well in truth, the goofy grin was on my face well before that, as the concert as a whole was outstanding. With the students coming on first, you had a preview of the next generation of musicians, while those students in turn got to see the opportunities that await them. During an address to the students, Sea to Sky conductor Takuya Maeda pointed out that music could easily be a part of their future, whether with a community band or as professionals. More importantly, both Sea to Sky and La Croix Valmer proved that music can be fun and joyous, and that the performance doesn’t have to end once the curtain comes down. At the reception after the show, some of the French musicians must have decided that the lack of music at the party was a problem, and therefore they broke out into an impromptu performance in the middle of the lobby, inspiring dancing, laughter, and joy from those around them. Watching them, I couldn’t help but think about how music is such a precious gift, and now more than ever, I know I couldn’t possibly live without it.