This I believe: Life beats in a rhythm that connects us. Over the course of my life, I have had moments of clarity, moments when everything fades into the background and the energy that connects each of us becomes so much bigger than me. I am of Native American Descent and a part of me always feels the most peaceful in the womb of Mother Nature. It is where I feel the most authentic, a serenity too overwhelming for words or clarification. But it is through a celebration of the solstice, sitting in a cathedral among the bustling streets of New York City where I am brought back to myself and released for renewal all in the course of a concert.
I attended my first Winter Solstice Celebration when I was in college. The Winter Solstice, lead by composer and musician Paul Winter, is a musical celebration of the astronomical event which occurs twice each year when the sun seems to stand still for a moment before reversing course. It is a celebration of the individual, the universe and of renewal all expressed through a musical ensemble that permeates each listener. I was given my first ticket and with no expectation I attended naively, having no idea the impact it would have on my life for years to come.
As I sat in the cathedral listening to a blend of music from different cultures and artists who both stand alone and function in an instrumental ensemble, the coalescence of the individual components resonated with me. It reminded me how important it is to be connected; it made me feel small in the grand scheme of things and something about that brought me comfort and peace.
Years later, I attended another Winter Solstice Celebration. The celebration had a Native American influence with the haunting voice and pow-wow drum of Apache singer John-Carlos Perea. Paul Winter and his consort challenged my senses and my mind, beckoning me across cultures and shadows, across nature in a cathedral in the heart of New York City.
Life is not always simple or easy and as we embark on our own journeys the solstice reminds me of the importance of connection. In essence it is that connection that brings music to my life through the threads that tie each of us together. Like listening to the rain, or feeling the cool fall air roll off of the Great Lakes, I realize there are moments that bring peace and clarity. It is always in those moments where I am outside of myself, escaping my individual life, if only for a moment, to gaze at something so much bigger. I always walk away feeling closer to those people who I love and realizing the connectedness of humanity and nature. Not unlike the Solstice, life writes compositions of darkness and of light. My life’s compositions become a melody when I step outside of myself and into the base of the rhythm, the base of human connection.