by Father Mark Goldasich
I really didn’t know what to expect, but . . . wow!
On Wed., Sept. 5, I went to a performance at Helzberg Hall in the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City, Missouri. I was there to see a “film concert” of “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.”
I had no idea what that meant. I thought that perhaps the Kansas City Symphony would perform some selections from the movie.
Well, the orchestra did so much more. The entire Harry Potter movie was shown on a gigantic screen, while the background music was performed live on stage. It was like nothing I’d ever seen.
Honestly, who pays much attention to the music while you’re engrossed in a movie? Although you’re aware of music playing during a film, it’s easy to forget that a real orchestra had to record that in the first place.
Several times during the symphony, I had to remind myself to tear my eyes away from the screen and instead drink in the richness of some 70 musicians playing their hearts out before me.
I was mesmerized — and I wasn’t alone. In fact, people were so captivated that they stayed in their seats as the long, long list of credits ran.
And the symphony played through it all — after the stars’ names were finished, we then watched as the seemingly interminable list of “others” scrolled on: key grip, gaffer, daily focus puller, additional clapper loader, best boy, chargehand dressing storeman, creature fabricator, digital cleanup artist, render wrangler, roto artist, etc.
What would a movie be today without music? Seeing the various instruments that comprised this movie’s soundtrack — violins, violas, cellos, double basses, flutes, oboes, English horn, clarinets, bassoons, trumpets, trombones, timpani, percussion and even a harp — astounded me.
It got me thinking about all of the “background things” in my daily life that I take for granted. It’s much like the experience in this little story:
A well-known organist was performing a concert on the huge, antique organ in the local Presbyterian church. The bellows were hand-pumped by a boy who was behind a screen, unseen by the audience. The first part of the performance was well received. The audience was thrilled by the organist’s ability at the keyboard of the old instrument.
After taking his bows and accepting the ovation, the musician walked proudly into a side passageway. As he passed the “bellows boy,” he heard him say, “We played well, didn’t we, sir?”
The organist snidely replied, “What do you mean ‘we’?”
After the intermission, the organist returned to his seat at the impressive five-keyboard console and began to play. Nothing happened; not a sound was heard.
Then the musician heard a youthful voice whisper from behind the screen, “Say, mister, now do you know what ‘we’ means?” (Found in Brian Cavanaugh’s “Sower’s Seeds of Encouragement: Fifth Planting.”)
Just as a movie would be far less rich without background music, so, too, would our lives without “background” people. For example, when at church, do we ever think about who unlocked the doors? Do we know the person who cleaned it or decorated? Do we step back and think about who wrote all of the checks so that the church would have lights and air conditioning or heating?
Have you ever thought about who orders the hosts and the wine or who cleans the altar cloths and servers’ albs?
In our daily life, there are so many whose work we take for granted: those who make sure the water in our homes is safe, the person who manufactures the rechargers for our electronic devices, those who produce our eyeglasses, the workers who put up towers so our cellphones work.
As Christians, we’re called to notice the “least,” the forgotten, among us. A good exercise this week might be to thank those wonderful people who labor in the background. Take time to thank the person who cuts your hair, the kid who stocks the grocery shelves, the folks who bus the tables at the restaurant or wash the dishes, the people who schedule your various appointments.
And while you’re at it, don’t forget to notice the live music at Mass this weekend. Go up and thank the choir.
For, as athlete Dhani Jones says, “There’s nothing better than live music. It’s raw energy, and raw energy feeds the soul.”