My Vision for the Role of the Orchestra in a Community – Tania Miller
I believe that music has the capacity to enrich a community and to bring the community together through the shared experience of being moved and changed by music. Music takes us on a journey — each of us on our own path, yet when inside a musical experience, we share that experience in a way that brings us together as the music requires us to travel with it in it’s own fluctuation of highs and lows, various emotions, and contrasts of tension and harmony.
Music changes inside the context of a community, culture and time. We seek different things from the experience of music depending on what is happening in our lives and what’s happening in the world. We experience music through the perspective of this context, and in that sense, music changes, and reflects the listener as much as the creator.
Music is powerful in its wordlessness. It transcends any one interpretation or meaning—even if it was inspired by a certain creative impetus, story or connection, the notes and the relationships between them go beyond any meaning.
Within a community, music is a warm, safe environment to explore all kinds of contexts. It’s a chance for us to explore various cultures and to honour them within our communities. In this way, we can bring diversity into a positive collectiveness and understanding. We can learn to understand each other better through the music that invites us to experience wide-ranging backgrounds and histories.
Music is there for us when we need to express ourselves, or to feel closer to our inner feeling. We can mourn the war in the Ukraine, or try to find understanding about the environment or the natural world. We can explore the tensions of our own biases within the privacy of our minds or gain perspective about cultures, human struggle, history and ideas within the progressive and nurturing warmth of the orchestra’s performances of music. Personal memories and understandings can be stirred and contemplated through the experience of live classical music yet we share these moments with people in our community whom we don’t know, and find ourselves feeling closer to those who have shared something beautiful within this audience community.
Music gives us inspiration, hope, joy and propels us to explore and wonder. When we experience the creativity and power of the musicians, their efforts, their virtuosity — we feel elevated and come to believe in the far-ranging expanse of human potential. Musicians inspire people to reach, strive, dream. An orchestra is a catalyst for inspiring and creative energy within a community. The orchestra is a voice of leadership without saying anything specific. It’s neutral, seeks to be all-inclusive and a welcoming and safe haven for all to enrich their lives. It guides young people and old, new listeners and seasoned listeners, to reach and grow, to learn and think, and that there is so much to life that we don’t see but that we experience viscerally through music.
The orchestra brings a community to explore itself, and to go beyond itself. Music defines the community, and the individuals within the community, while at the same time, the artistic curation is defined by the character of a community and serves it by reflecting it. Music (and art) is both creation and perception — music and listener, orchestra and audience, one context to another. We need each other. A great community needs a great orchestra, and is enriched through the orchestra’s leadership and inspiration.