Friday afternoon, one week into May, a soft rain outside. I can now see the blossoms on the pear tree that had been blocked from my view over the past few years by a sneaky tree that popped up and changed the landscape while I wasn’t looking. Does that ever happen to you? You look away for a moment, or a decade, and the landscape has changed without your awareness or consent.
I Feel Pretty from West Side Story is on the radio. I love the unpredictable stream of this radio station . In a world where we have days, even weeks, worth of songs on playlists, when we can filter the views we have of the world by our choice of social media, websites and newspapers, I choose serendipity. Now I am listening to Al Martino sing I Have But One Heart. I have never heard of him or this song, but he is a crooner like Bing or Sinatra. Lovely to hear on a Friday afternoon. He starts singing in Italian. My daughter comes in to show me an advert she has written for our cats, Pandora and Zelda. We aren’t trying to sell them, she’s just gotten interested in writing adverts. The radio changes to an acoustic guitar and trumpet duo, AIRELLE BESSON ET NELSON VERAS. Wow. They might be my discovery of the week.
The news update is in French. Aside from studying the language in school many years ago, I don’t really speak French. But I like trying to figure out the odd news item from the bits and pieces I can remember. Maybe this is how I tend to view the world anyway – La vie en rose.
All this randomness is a way of opening doors to the unexpected. Of reminding me that there are always other songs, other languages, other everchanging landscapes to embrace, if not completely understand.
Update, 9.00 pm – The Radio Gods must have been listening (or reading my blog). Here’s what happened tonight: Sibelius Symphony no. 2 is a symphony that I love love love. It was one of the first symphonies I ever played in a full orchestra as a student and that experience is one of the reasons I love playing in orchestras. One of my friends arranged the last movement for a small ensemble of musician friends to play as the processional at our wedding. Later, it was the first symphony I played when returning to orchestra after my first baby was born.
But I have a funny rule about that symphony – I cannot own a recording of it. It has to find my ears by serendipity, by radio waves. I never know when it’s going to be broadcast, but whenever I do happen to hear it on the radio it’s a good omen and I remember it. I remember hearing it being broadcast through the sound system of a museum where I was looking at an Ansel Adams exhibition in Houston when I was at university. It came across the radio waves the first weekend I was in Scotland when I lived in Edinburgh for a year. After a really good catch-up with teaching friends about a year ago, I was heading home to pick up my kids and there it was, on the radio, accompanying me.
I’ve long wanted to write about Sibelius Symphony no. 2. And earlier today when I wrote about radio waves, it must have let the Radio Gods know it was time to send this glorious music my way once more. Tonight, after picking up my son and his friends from Scouts, most unmistakably, coming through the radio speaker, my old friend: Sibelius Symphony no. 2.
The finale is playing as I type. It is a finale of triumph and sunshine. I’ll stop typing now and listen. And I shall enjoy every gorgeous note until our next auspicious meeting.