By Robert D. Thomas
Music Critic
Pasadena Star-News/San Gabriel Valley Tribune/Whittier Daily News

Have you ever thought … what the world would be like without music? … We would all be humans and life would go on, but it would be much more difficult to mourn our losses and celebrate our loves. God gave us music, I think, so that we would have some hint of what She is like. God sings to our hearts with music, telling us of love about which we would know much less if it were not for music.

— Andrew Greeley, “Star Bright”

Thanksgiving is a schizophrenic time from my perspective as a classical music columnist. On one hand, I like to list things for which Southern California classical music lovers should be grateful. However, it’s also a time to look forward to the holiday season, because for many people, Christmas comes alive through its music. But before we dive into the holiday music season, let us give thanks.

Many things remain constant year after year — music is, after all, a universal and, in some ways, a timeless art. Unfortunately, not every constant is a positive. Once again this year, we need to give special thanks for music educators in schools, conservatories and churches who struggle to keep the music candle shining in a society that increasingly finds it hard to believe that art is an indispensable part of the educational process.

Moreover, let us remember parents who know the value of music and the arts and who work hard to find the extra income necessary to give their children a music education. I believe there is a direct correlation between the decline in music education and society’s increase in violence. May we come to our senses before it is too late.

There are so many others — musicians, conductors, administrators, volunteers, patrons, audiences and others — who come together to enrich our lives through concerts, recitals, opera productions and other events. Many are unsung, working tirelessly behind the scenes. We need to remember, support and give thanks to all of them, especially at this of the year.

The best way of saying thanks is, of course, to attend concerts and, fortunately, there will be plenty of musical cheer offered during the holiday season, some of which I will list in my column on Sunday. Take the time in your busy lives to make music part of lives. And, to paraphrase songwriter Henry Smith, take time to give thanks with a grateful heart.

(c) Copyright 2013, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved. Portions may be quoted with attribution.

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