Big Day of Music

May 24, 2004

[Salvation Army band]Yesterday morning, Kay & I led worship at the Fremont Vineyard — just the two of us, no band. Being in a different church is kind of a strange experience, but we had fun, and left with an open invitation to return “whenever you want to,” which I take to mean we did all right.

Then in the afternoon, I went with a homie to a classical music concert. It’s been a long time since I’ve been to a classical performance… quite a departure from Tool and Radiohead! The featured performer was Jon Nakamatsu, an amazing pianist who, without a music degree (he’s a friggin’ German teacher!), came out of nowhere to win the gold medal in the 1997 Van Cliburn competition. He played Beethoven with an orchestra and a choir, and, well, Beethoven is impressive but doesn’t touch me.

But then he came back for a couple of encores which he played by himself (Chopin and Schubert), and ohmygosh. As he played, I noticed that I was taking shallow breaths and holding back tears. I looked around and saw others in the audience and the orchestra wiping their eyes. One of the violinists was completely undone; she wiped tears from her red eyes with one hand, her other hand on her panting chest …like he was making love to her! Amazing.

Jon Reid

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As an American missionary kid who grew up in Japan, I'm a child of two cultures, while not fully belonging to either. This gives me a sightly different view of the world.

4 responses to Big Day of Music

  1. Passion for music is something I have experienced, though rarely as intense as what you described at your concert. I wonder how many of us are really looking for a physical/emotional reaction when we get into Christian music, or any music, and whether there is any danger in that for a Christian.
    God knows we are that way.
    Or do we crave such things in non-musical worship, and is that dangerous?
    And is “dangerous” better than “modern?”

  2. I think about the power of music a lot, Jon. Its a significant topic in particular for those of us who express ourselves in that manner, remembering that it is a medium designed by a generous God for a substantial means of interacting with Him.
    I remember first hearing a recording of George Winston’s “Thanksgiving” and marvelling at his ability to convey joy and gratitude through a keyboard and its associated strings. I also soberly reflected on his not responding (publicly that I’m aware of, anyway) to Jesus despite such brilliant articulation. For He is the best Person to have walked the earth and an peerless focal point of what is beautiful and lovely and worth the deepest affection and loyalty of all of humanity. Faithful one, kind to the evil and the ungrateful.
    Thanks for taking us down this path, even for a moment… hope you guys will step out again to catalyze worship.

  3. Dave, I’d say good music is defined by how much of a reaction it elicits. Music that does not touch somebody is crap. As Greg points out, music has power. So is it dangerous because it’s powerful? Then give me danger.
    I believe that music was imbued with power for the purpose of glorifying God. So even in the hands of a George Winston — or Tool, or Radiohead, or even Marilyn Manson for that matter! — I find things that point to God. The music refines me, it helps clarify what I perceive to be real, it gives me emotional ummphh to pursue God harder.

  4. I have never been to a normal (heeee) concert as intense-sounding as that. 😮
    I did see a concert once before I left the Philippines, where I could not keep myself from falling face down in worship. I was shaking so hard because the music apart from the lyrics had “words” that I could not explain. Wow to Bow..
    P.S. I think Marilyn Manson is one of the most sensible, insightful, intelligent artists I’ve ever known.