Monday, February 7, 2011


Music is a primal pursuit. In the bustle of activity, it can slip easily out of our days and we forget the power it holds. Making the effort to keep music in your life is worth it because music is vital. As we open our ears, we also open our eyes. Music creates new awareness of the world in which we live.

In my book Coming Home, I talk about the crucial role of music, and dance, to building an enlivened existence:

"Music and dance can temper any mood, elevate the spirit and release a rush of endorphins. The sense of well-being that comes from dancing is a priceless gift that we experience far too infrequently. Music and dance release tension, allowing our souls to become free."

Today I want to talk about the music that, the first time I experienced it, touched me deeply and now enriches my life on a regular basis.

Five years ago, a friend brought me to the opera. We saw La Boheme by the composer Giacomo Puccini. Experiencing this tragic story through arias that trembled, glimmered and thundered with emotion changed my life in more ways than one.

Opera has a rich legacy with influences, contributors and innovations from all over the world. It is a medium that spans a wide swath of eras and finds inspiration in some of the most unlikely places. Attending operas has given me a blossoming awareness of its many traditions in opera. And the more I learned, the more the music opened me to the spiraling complexity of this beautiful art form.

About a year after I saw my first opera, I began designing products for the Metropolitan Opera. This ongoing project has been immensely fulfilling and vastly educational. It has allowed me to delve deeper into the music, and, in so doing, feel more alive.

Music of all kinds frees our souls. Different sounds speak to different people. Opera may not be the music that touches your soul, but there is music out there that will call to you, wake you and transport you to new places. All you have to do is find it and listen.

*Coming Home: A Seasonal Guide to Creating Family Traditions, Published by Abrams: Stewart, Tabori & Chang

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