Cornerstones - "First Things First"

Posted by Bradley Saunders on

First, perhaps like many of you, I am unable to conceal my disquiet regarding Covid 19 and our related and unrestful world condition at this moment in time, including its effect on all of music and music education. To the point, schools and institutions across our world are caught in the maelstrom of challenges that undermine both our educational processes as we have developed and become comfortable with them over the years, as well as our performance of live music. My own “Timberline Express Big Band” played its last live performance in February of 2020, and we have not been able to meet for rehearsals or performances since. I am personally sad for all of us – students, professional musicians, as well as the audiences sustained by music and who have not been able to engage in music making and its regenerative gifts for going on two years. This is a sad time. My nature, however, is to remain optimistic about the pandemic as well as the most extreme dramas that are paraded incessantly in front of our lives in this unprecedented moment.

A number of years ago, as part of a commissioned work and well before Covid, I wrote a poem that would express one of the cornerstones of my own musical philosophy, that I believe states an undeniable truth, and that stands to sustain us all in the most troubling of times.  Perhaps timelier now than ever, I open this first Newsletter to you with that poem - in the hopes that it might serve to bolster us all as we move through the morass and challenges of returning to the joys and benefits of music and music education that we all know so well. 

Martin Behnke

Behold a timeless river,
beginnings scarcely known...
from reaches back in time and space
the seeds somewhere were sown.

Then slowly shaped a fabric,
linked to earth, man and beast...
a cloth so full myst’ries,
a soul could only feast.

Time has seen the coursing flow
become a guiding core...
molding something sometimes sensible
from life's chaotic roar.

Power, strength, and noble dreams
reside there in its heart...
and beauty, truth, and justice,
too claim a seemly part.

The current springs inside each breast
but waiting to be called...
to make us better living things,
to temper certain falls.

The river we call "music"
for each a lasting friend...
we gaze into the morrow's dawn...
...the river never ends.

The river we call "music"
for each a lasting friend...
we gaze into the morrow's dawn...
...the river never ends.

View the score and hear the recording of this piece here:

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