|Mozart is portrayed attending a lodge meeting on the far lower right of this anonymous 1790 painting.|
Beneficence. True Concord. New Crowned Hope. All of which I feel so delicately define the grandeur of the purposeful depths of music and recall anniversaries on this day, anniversaries through which God continually reminds me of my own purpose in life. And it's even more interesting as to how I came up with these exact words to describe the aforementioned, for they are the names of Masonic lodges frequented by Mozart in Vienna.
Mozart delivered beneficence, true concord and new crowned hope to his fellow man on September 30, 1791, with the premiere of his singspiel "Die Zauberflöte" ("The Magic Flute") at the Theater auf der Wieden in Vienna. It was to be the last stage work he would conduct from the fortepiano in his brief 35 years. Today, 220 years later, "Die Zauberflöte" remains a giant in standard repertory and continues to inspire and delight audiences through its effervescent fusion of comedy and serious philosophical drama.
Mozart was a child of the Enlightenment who reveled in the splendor of his era, but struggled to reconcile the social and political landscape which so readily robbed a layman of a fair chance at life, himself included. Mozart brilliantly intertwined themes of fantasy, magic and fairytale with universality, brotherhood and enlightenment to entertain while advocating for the greater good. He was undoubtedly the first person in history to bind activism and "message artistry" with the highest aesthetic of musical genius to achieve what we refer to now as "superstardom." As the Economist's article "Mozart Mania" stated, Mozart was "a pioneer for believers in culture as a unifying force." I believe this, wholeheartedly, and it's one reason why I find his music so magnetizing.
Ten years ago today, on September 30, 2001, I found myself amidst one of the most powerful moments, musical or otherwise, that I had ever encountered in life. My collegiate marching band took the field to perform at the first New York Giants game since the September 11th terrorist attack. In front of over 70,000 fans, we took part in one of the most memorable football games in recent history.
|I'm pictured here in the middle, the second trumpet player from the left, performing at Giants Stadium.|
After our pregame show, the Harlem Boys Choir sang our National Anthem and Tony Bennett led in the singing of "America the Beautiful." The moment was highlighted by the visit of representatives of the NYC Fire and Police Departments. Our band presented a financial contribution to the N.Y.F.D. in memory of those lost. The moment was brimming with intensity and just as with Mozart's "Die Zauberflöte," it was a moment where music served humanity well through the cultivation of unity, love and consolation. This experience changed my life, and it's just one of many experiences God has placed in my path to provide direction and reassurance. Through these collective experiences, my passion has evolved in strength and conviction. Having a passion in life is the greatest gift of all.
I find great joy in sharing my love of Mozart's music with others. It is creative, artistic and generous. My pursuit of what I refer to as "creative altruism" has further evolved with my newly established non-profit organization, 2300, which pays homage to one of the greatest artist-humanitarians of our time, Michael Jackson, a man of faith, who devoted his humanity, his sensitive and creative soul to the art of music, which he designed though the lens of social consciousness. To say I'm inspired by these men would be a severe understatement, for I live a life of service through their music.
Music is art and it depicts the human experience abstractly, realistically, superficially, egotistically. In all matters of the aesthetic, be forthright, but to lose sight of its capacity to bring about love, healing, enlightenment and fraternal union is an unforgivable disservice to the art form. Great music, the most profound music, is music that answers the call. Beneficence. True Concord. New Crowned Hope.