Music and Mountains
About fifty people, from elders to the Policeman Simon's youngest child, he's just now walking, attended the classical piano concert last night in the Chilkat Center and heard Tien Hsieh give the Steinway a real workout, especially on Tarantella from Venezia e Napoli by Franz Liszt. That's the crazy dance done to spin the poison from a tarantula bite out of person's body. The other event in town, a borough assembly hearing on the heli-skiing permits and regulations drew a packed house. "It was an easy choice," one concert goer said, "a classical argument or classical music." I couldn't help but think the crowd at the assembly chambers could have used the tarantula dance to release some tension and vitriol. Movement helps bring blood to the brain, which makes it easier to think clearly, and music brings blood to the heart, which makes us more compassionate and empathetic. Tien said that in Liszt's time every home that could afford one had a piano, kind of like computers now. Watching her move across the keys- she played so physically- leaning in her black velvet gown, arching and scrunching and plinking and pounding, made me realize how much art, and all creativity really, owes to the tactile and physical and how much we humans need that. I bought an iPhone this week, and have been playing with the ring tones from iTunes and all the music apps. There are many, and it is incredible how easy they are to locate and listen too. But watching Tien make music from old wood, wire and ivory, especially with the ladies from the Chilkat Valley Historical Society sitting in front of me, I realized I was in the presence of the primary source for all those jingles. It is the same feeling I have when I'm hiking in the mountains around Haines. When I've been away for too long, I crave that feeling, like chocolate. Music and wilderness are primary sources of human inspiration and strength. iTunes and helicopters are cool and quick, and truly amazing, but a piano concert and hike up a mountain are sublime. They connect to us to our shared humanity and the great source of all our strength in a way that machines simply cannot.