Throughout the last semester of Honors we spent a large amount of time discussing the five ways of knowing. On Sunday, at the Flying Forms Baroque Chamber Ensemble performance, I was able to experience firsthand aesthetics as a way of knowing. Through five pieces played on a combination of violin, harpsichord, cello, and viola de gamba, the musicians captured the authentic Baroque style and were able to carry the audience with them on a trip to the past. The variation in technical difficulty, mood, and overall style created a clear window through which the audience could observe traditional Baroque music. Down to the gut strings on their period instruments, the performers were committed to their craft and their dedication rang throughout their performance. To find out more about their music, visit their website.
As I noted before, this concert was a great example of aesthetics as a way of knowing. In our art unit we discussed, quite extensively, how art, music included, has a way of connecting us to deeper understanding, often times an understanding that is beyond words. To demonstrate this in class we listened to a piece of music and wrote a story about what we heard. Though the characters, settings, and plot lines varied to a point, there were key moments, climaxes and turning points, which stood clear in most of our stories. We were each writing unique stories, but the music that served as our inspiration helped connect us to a deeper meaning. It would have been interesting to carry out the same exercise during the Flying Forms performance. I don't mean to say that each piece lead every member of the audience to the same, clear understanding. I do believe, however, that based on the skill of the performers and the feeling they put into their music the majority of those experiencing it would have felt moved the same way. As one who is rather reason-bound in their thinking, being able to see an artistic performance such as this reminded me that aesthetics are, in fact, a powerful way of knowing.
From this experience I gained not only an appreciation for the Baroque style of music, but also an appreciation for those who devote so much of who they to their craft. Each of the performers holds a doctorate degree in music or performance, but their connection to their music goes beyond academics. For one of my ministry classes I'm reading the book The Courage to Teach by Parker J. Palmer. In it he challenges teachers to connect with their inner selves, and the subjects they teach, in order to be a truly effective teacher. The Flying Forms ensemble was a great example of that for me. Though they weren't necessarily there to teach the audience, the passion and connection they had to their art was enough to educate us about more than Baroque music. As I continue on in my education, and my life, I hope I can live and teach with that level of authenticity.