'Tis the season for starting up again. A general sense of renewal and coming back – with perhaps a clearer perspective – always permeates the air at the start of a new academic year. And I love it! While it's been some time since I attended college or any type of schooling, the anticipation of a brand new academic year of knowledge-seeking still echoes loudly for me. The cooling weather and low level hum of a healthy anxiety made opportunity and personal evolution visceral. That energy remains as I look to a new program year of music ministry at Plymouth.
With the blessing of effective vaccines we're granted the opportunity to now just get on with our lives. While Covid infections can still inflict great harm to a few and long Covid is certainly a concern for all, we are nevertheless left with no choice but to just live with this virus. I suggest we embrace the opportunity to "live with it" enthusiastically!
Music-making is preferably a contact sport in my view. Without community and close social contact, music would be relegated to solo performances. Those can be obviously wonderful and very satisfying as a musician but the shared experience of musical expression is uniquely uplifting. Whether it be the coordinated ringing of bells in the Plymouth Ringers, the joyful mission of preparing and singing choral anthems in the Chancel Choir, the shifting band of minstrels who provide an eclectic array of sounds for the 9:00 a.m. Sunday services, or congregational singing – the heartbeat of a church's musical worship life – it is in community that the Spirit is stirred most profoundly.
We have a chance to confidently enter yet another new beginning. We can safely infuse our valued traditions as a church, such as a vibrant choral program, with new life if we so choose. I choose to offer a robust response to this opportune moment and heartily invite you to participate in this blessed space as well.
'Tis truly the season to do so.
Mark Heiskanen is Plymouth's Dir. of Music and Organist. Learn more about him and read his weekly Music Minute here.