I generally get to the office around 7 a.m. The parking lot is mostly empty, and the fourth floor of the Administration Building is usually dead silent—save for the music playing softly in my office.
At work, more times than not I’m listening to classical. This might come as a surprise to friends who have traveled with me to see Stevie Wonder at JazzFest in New Orleans, the Allman Brothers Band at the Beacon Theatre in New York or the sensational bluegrass sextet Trampled By Turtles at Nashville’s hallowed Ryman Auditorium. No one loves a searing guitar riff more than me, but I find it hard to concentrate on reading or writing with Eric Clapton’s voice and Fender Stratocaster wailing in the background.
In many ways, classical music was the soundtrack of my childhood. My parents love it, and sometimes when we’d eat dinner Bach or Vivaldi would accompany my mom’s deliciously gooey lasagna.
I’ve never stopped enjoying it, and as I write this, the sounds of strings performing Jonathan Leshnoff’s fourth symphony are drifting from the speakers of my Dell. I certainly haven’t heard a piece of lyric-free music with more emotion than “Heichalos,” which Leshnoff wrote specifically for instruments that survived the Holocaust. It’s no wonder he was able to capture both their history and beauty. When we were setting up for the photoshoot with him (the result of which spans pages 12 and 13), he began actively composing. At one point, I wasn’t sure whether he’d forgotten that we were there. Music is ingrained in him in a way few of us can understand, but all of us can appreciate.
You can listen to his symphony on Spotify (search “Nashville Symphony”). It doesn’t have to be first thing in the morning or in your office, but I recommend finding a peaceful, quiet spot, reading this story and clicking play.