“Colour of Music” Embodies the Essence of the Arts
The inaugural COLOUR OF MUSIC FESTIVAL was quietly spectacular. More than 100 musicians and 80 works were efficiently compressed into five days of organ recitals, chamber music matinées, piano solos, vocal concerts, and symphonic works at venues across the peninsula.
The caliber of conductors, musicians, and singers who came from around the country and globe to participate was impressive, not to mention refreshing. Equally impressive was the production excellence of all the programs. The scope and professionalism of the entire event were the best our city has seen outside of Spoleto—which is nothing short of remarkable given that this festival focused exclusively on music.
Such an undertaking called for tremendous support by many people, but primary credit goes to one man: Lee Pringle, the festival’s Founder and Manager, whose vision finally came to fruition after 10 years of dreaming and extensive planning. And there could not be a better ambassador who, in his closing remarks at Memminger Auditorium before the final evening’s performance of Mozart’s Requiem, stated that this festival was about all of us “making change to change the color of music.”
As Lee also pointed out, Charleston is a fitting place to host the country’s first all-black-classical-musicians festival since this is where 40 percent of the nation’s slaves started their long, torturous journey in American history. Notwithstanding the power and reality of that sentiment, however, there was still evidence of visible resistance in Charleston’s white community to the idea of an “all-black” musicians’ festival. Noticeably, even the city’s staunchest classical-music patrons and fans did not turn out in their usual numbers. Nor, on the other hand, was there a significant showing from the local black community. Attendance, while enthusiastic, was light, especially at some of the smaller performances.
But for all the people who did attend this superb series of concerts, the vital role of the arts was more than tangible. Ironically, the music proved to have no color, to belong to no race. At the same time, like the full spectrum of light, the festival encompassed all colors and had, as a result, a harmonizing, humanizing, even humbling effect. It is hard to put into words just how special it was and how good it felt in terms of both the music and the occasion.
The unifying influence of the arts is its most meaningful yet least understood quality. Too often—perhaps now more than ever—the arts are regarded as a mere instrument or act or social gathering. Even when the arts are appreciated as beautiful and inspiring in themselves, their potential for affecting us within ourselves often goes unnoticed and is drastically undervalued. The truth is that participating in the arts, attending art events, and supporting the arts is not about the arts. It’s about us. It’s about investing in the best of who and what we are as human beings. In spite of appearances, all the science, engineering, math, and technology in the world will never do that.
At its core, the main contribution of the arts in our lives is this ability to lift us—performers and audiences alike—to the highest in ourselves while simultaneously nourishing our humanity, with all that that implies. Next year, when the Colour of Music Festival returns, come see—and listen—for yourself. Let yourself be transformed.
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For more information, visit ColourOfMusic.org.