From an early age music has been an important part of my life. Weekly piano lessons were routine from ages 5 through 17. In high school, I was intrigued by the melodious mellow sound of the baritone, so I took a few lessons and joined the high school band. After honing my skill in the college band and after graduating from college, I was honored to be a member of the Nashville Sounds of Brass while living in Tennessee. It was an added bonus to marry Ann, a very gifted musician who plays the piano and organ beautifully as well as the marimba and harp. Music has been an inspiration in our lives.
I believe that music is a precious gift from God. It has a way to uplift, inspire, and elevate our thoughts. I respect individuals who are gifted in providing quality music.
My wife and I attended a piano concert by Leslie Lemke about five years ago. Lemke was born premature, is autistic, blind, and has cerebral palsy. While growing up, he made no sounds and little movements and showed no emotions. He was 12 years old before he first learned to stand and 15 before he could walk. At age 16, his mother awoke in the middle of the night hearing music in the house. She went towards the piano and she saw and heard Leslie playing Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto #1 perfectly. Lemke is now 66 years old and has been featured on 60 Minutes and around the world for his unique gift. My wife and I were inspired by his story and by his gift of music.
Two weeks ago Southwestern Adventist University held their 25th annual music festival. Three hundred sixty-six students from 42 high schools partnered with over 100 Southwestern Adventist University student musicians and alumni in an astounding performance at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center. Joining the students, were guest musicians, Dr. Jeffrey Loeffert, associate professor of saxophone at Oklahoma State University and Emily Levin, principal harpist with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. The talents of these individuals were stunning. Kim Andrew Arnesen, one of the most frequently performed classical composers from Norway, was showcased in the world premiere performance of “Sing the Earth.” The performance of his composition is a tribute to our common home, the earth. It also was a tribute to music and the different cultures around the world; it was well received by those in attendance.
The A Night at the Meyerson concert was phenomenal, bringing together individuals from around the country to combine their voices and instruments into blended harmony that at times evoked smiles, tears, reflective moments, and congratulatory cheers. The concert was an inspiration to performer and listener alike.
I am so blessed to be at Southwestern Adventist University where musical talent is abundant. I have experienced our students perform for community functions, sometimes as soloists, in small groups, or as ensembles. I have seen these musicians obtain standing ovations as their music resonates with the heartstrings of the listeners. Many of our student musicians believe they have been blessed with a God-given gift to play or sing and using their gift is a privilege to be shared with others.
There are so many benefits to music. Music has a miraculous way to help us be healthier. Music has a unique way to connect people together. Music has a significant way to enhance and enrich our worship experiences. And music has a powerful way to elevate and inspire our thoughts which brings joy and happiness to our lives.
This article is an opinion piece written by President Shaw for the Cleburne Times Review.