The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra performed a Christmas concert at Holy Hill last night and we were given some tickets! I don't think I've ever been to the Symphony before (unless you count the Kinderkonzert in which Ria - then about 4 years old - and I hid in a telephone booth in the lobby because she was completely terrified of the noise level. Gus - then 2 - and his Dad sat very happily through the performance). Certainly nothing like this at least.
John and I sat in the second row - perhaps 8 feet from the conductor and 12 feet from the first violin. It was absolutely incredible. It made the Basilica seem rather small because the music filled the space so beautifully, but it was also fascinating to watch the conductor and the musicians and to so clearly hear the music coming from the different sections. Recordings can never be quite like this.
Giovanni Gabrieli - Sonata Pian'e Forte (a brass piece which they played from the back of Church - absolutely incredible!)
Arcangelo Corelli - Concerto Grosso, Opus 6. No. 8 "Christmas Concerto"
Johann Sebastian Bach - Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring
Johann Sebastian Bach - Brandenburg Concerto No. 3
Giuseppe Tartini - Concerto in D major for Trumpet and Orchestra (this was perhaps my favorite - the trumpet solo was one of the most beautiful things I've ever heard)
Englebert Humperdinck - Prelude to Hansel and Gretel
Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky - "Waltz of the Flowers"
Georges Bizet - "Farandole" from Suite No. 2 from L'Arlesienne
Sergei Prokofiev - "Troika" from Suite from Lieutenant Kije, Opus 60
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - No. 3 from Three German Dances, K. 605
Ralph Vaughan Williams - Fantasia on Greensleeves
George Frideric Handel - "Hallelujah Chorus" from Messiah (sing-along)
It was particularly beautiful to listen to this music while looking at the gorgeous altarpiece. It made me consider again how art (including art, music, poetry and stories) can lead people to God or even lay the groundwork for them to accept God later. God certainly works through beauty and the imagination and this was really a good concert in more ways than one.
It also reminded me once again (especially since John and I had recently watched the visually hyperactive, but content-rich documentary about C.S. Lewis that comes with the Narnia extended DVD) of how fantasy and mythology stories can end up leading people to God. This was certainly the case in C.S. Lewis' own life, but it also reminded me of how big an impact the Narnia stories had me. They were hugely formative to me as a child and I think they (and other stories) can play a very significant role in that oft-forgotten aspect of childhood education - helping children to develop a love of the good and the beautiful and a desire to seek the truth.