Saturday night Heather and I got a chance to do something a bit unusual for us- the Seattle symphony. We got dressed up, grabbed dessert at the Scarlett Tree, and after a brief pit stop at McCaw Hall (don’t ask…I blew it) we headed to Benaroya Hall to see the Symphony. We were ushered to our seats and because of some generosity on behalf of the ticket agent on the phone, our seats were upgraded to being middle aisle only 25 rows back. We sat and looked on as nearly 75 pieces sat waiting on the stage. People of all ages and ethnicities and gender stood waiting anxiously at their instrument. And the diversity of instruments was amazing: tubas and violins and drum kits and horns and xylophones and cellos and about 20 other different instruments. And then the side door opened and the conductor walked on. The crowd went mad, the musicians visibly inhaled and readied their instrument. The conductor stood on his mini-podium, looked at his musicians with his arms raised, and in one swift motion- the entire orchestra played. The music was Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto and I wasn’t familiar with the music. As all the musicians passionately played their instrument my eyes scanned the band of musicians and appreciated each of their singular contributions. But easily, the best show was the conductor.
His hand and body motions were so animated, like a master puppeteer controlling the actions of almost 100 people. Its as if the musicians were so in tune with each swift raising or lowering of the arms, each twist of the hand, each nod of the head, they responded to his commands almost by instinct. The music extraordinary, the grandeur of the whole symphony was truly spectacular.
The amazing thing about watching the Seattle symphony is it gives you a total appreciation to the collective effort of a group of individuals that come together to create something beautiful. If you took any one of those musicians and put them on their own, their music they played would have sounded nice, perhaps even beautiful, but it would have sounded incomplete. Because the symphony was written to for each instrument to be played as different parts of a complete whole. No one or two individuals are more important than any others….but collectively, as everyone hit their notes and played with fervor, a masterpiece unfolds.
This reminds me a bit of the Christian life, of what Christ calls us to, of playing our individual instruments with passion but also understanding that none of us plays alone. We are all parts that are meant to be played with others towards a collective piece of music. It just doesn’t work if we try to play the symphony by ourselves.
And the conductor? That would be Christ. I could only dream of my life being so in tune with His that like the musician to the conductor, I would be able to respond to each movement and desire and teaching of the Great Conductor.
May you play your instrument today, and play it well. But may you also know that your are part of a larger whole of the community of God that is meant to be played collectively. And may you play for the Great Conductor as he stand before you calling you towards following Him.