“It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.”
This is what the philosopher Plato said about music over two thousand years ago. Albus Dumbledore, headmaster of Hogwarts, put it even more simply: “Music. A magic beyond all we do here.”
As I sat in the magnificent St Michielskerk Church in Belgium, whilst my orchestra prepared to play, I was reminded of the wizard’s words.
This was after ten gruelling hours on board a hot, cramped coach. I was beginning to doubt whether the tedious voyage would be worth it. How could I possibly survive an ordeal like this? More than 60 musicians had finally arrived at a hostel and we settled down for our first rehearsal. I was blown away.
Almost one day of non-stop travel had drained me, but from the first chord of our medley of the musical ‘Les Misérables’ I was suddenly reinvigorated. We all were. Music has this ability to evoke emotion and bring people together, all united by one feeling.
Two thousand years after Plato’s death, are music tours like ours becoming outdated? When was the last time you heard a piece of music that moved you? We are becoming more interested in ‘musicians’ such as Kanye West and Ariana Grande. Artists who synthesise, Snapchat and selfie their way through their career whilst forgetting about the power and emotion of pure music.
I love the music of today as much as any teenager, but without the human element, without knowing that there is someone behind the microphone who has spent years perfecting an art form, and who is now putting all their passion into performance, music suffers.
Not all modern musicians have lost this art. With the help of social media and the ability to share talent instantly with millions, more future artists are being noticed - people such as Ed Sheeran, equipped only with a guitar or a piano.
So why is it important to protect this art? Music has an effect that nothing else can match. It fills people with joy, makes someone reflect, brings tears to the eyes, draws communities together in good times and bad and, more importantly, it will always stimulate wonder.
My school orchestra once had the privilege to play Elgar’s ‘Nimrod’ at St Edmundsbury Cathedral on Remembrance Day. We performed to a wonderful crowd of former students, veterans and members of the current school community. Imagine spending months perfecting something and then hearing it in this inspiring setting.
The sense of togetherness was overwhelming, the previously unknown links between the audience and the orchestra as well as the connection amongst us players. It was something that could only be achieved through live, unplugged, unedited music.
Classical music may be far from your taste, but there will always be raw, pure music out there. So perhaps it’s time to step back from the stresses of the modern world and appreciate something that will never age: real music.