MASSCreative​ emailed me today to remind me that today is #artsmatters day. Truly #artsmattersevery day but it is kind of fun to reflect for a moment why arts do matter to ME.

Something so integral to life’s sustenance is hard to articulate. How do you describe air? But a brief response to last night’s performance of Mahler’s Third Symphony set to dance by John Neumeier and performed by Boston Ballet and company holds some of my thinking.

I know Mahler’s work only vaguely. I know his symphonies are big and layered, lush, and complex. I know my grandfather and avocational composer loved Mahler – not a contemporary for Mahler who died in 1911 when Opa (grandfather in German) was 11. But Mahler grew up in the Austro-Hungarian Empire as did my grandfather; was Jewish as was my grandfather; and was influenced by the folk and street music of childhood as was my grandfather.

Mahler had in his head lots of philosophical questions that played with musical ideas unmistakably. As one biographer said (according to Wikipedia)

“not only full of the sound of Bohemian bands, trumpet calls and marches, Bruckner chorales and Schubert sonatas. It was also throbbing with the problems of philosophy and metaphysics he had thrashed out, above all, with Lipiner.”[17

This philosophical mix of intentions that swirled for Mahler in most of his work, is obvious. John Neumeier further extends the introspective journey of dance design to Mahler’s biggest and longest work – The Third Symphony – a work of six movements originally entitled almost as questions.

  1. Pan Awakes, Summer Marches In”
  2. “What the Flowers in the Meadow Tell Me”
  3. “What the Animals in the Forest Tell Me”
  4. “What Man Tells Me”
  5. “What the Angels Tell Me”
  6. “What Love Tells Me”

Movement, light, shapes, and outstretched legs and arms wrapping around air and other dancers help ask the big questions about life. And I am still crawling out of the 90 minutes of intensity that offers no story line, no villains, no love-struck pas de deux. And in this case #artsmatters to me as a staging of my own grappling with life, death, spirituality, love, hope, yearning, and the wondering of this fascinating thing called life.

You can experience this work in Boston until November 1, 2015.