Lot of ways to describe us humans. A few literary superlatives come to mind: goodly, noble, virtuous. Other descriptions have been: brutish, petty, sinful. However we may see ourselves, one fact is indisputable. We’re relational creatures. Almost everything we feel or think or do is felt or thought or done in relation to the people and the world around us. Look, we’ve all been born into this orchestra, and even when we’re doing a solo, we’re really only playing off the other instruments around us.
As it should be.
On the other hand, we’ve had some go-it-alone soloists in our history. You know, a Benedict Arnold, Jesse James, Al Capone, Lee Harvey Oswald, Bernie Madoff. On the other hand, a Robert E. Lee, Thomas Edison, Charles Lindbergh, Elvis Presley. You see, there are always some players who don’t like the notes as written. Who hear their own beat, their own music. And while some of these soloists turn out to be distracting, others turn out to be dazzling. Quietly giving the piece a little more than even its composer first heard.
Like all those nameless, faceless players throughout our history who’ve ignored the spotlight, preferring instead to simply do their part when the composition and the conductor called for it. No monuments for them. But neither any mortifications. You see, these are the silent majority of players on this bill whose only lasting memory is the memory of a nation’s music being played on key.
In 1942, in the midst of the Greatest Generation’s greatest war, Aaron Copland composed “Fanfare for the Common Man.” Whenever you’re feeling — well, small and just common — listen to how Copland heard you and your role in this orchestra we call America.
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