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  • Marilyn Saltzman

The Prayer

“When shadows fill our day

Lead us to a place

Guide us with your grace

Give us faith so we’ll be safe”

Sunday morning at breakfast, Irv and I listened to “The Prayer,” performed the night before by an all-star cast at the Together at Home concert. Then we listened to a version by Andrea Bocelli and Tori Kelly, followed by a rendition with Celine Dion and Josh Groban. That led us to more songs by Groban. As I write this, I listen to Kelly singing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”

My eyes fill with tears. And I reflect on the power of music, especially at this challenging time of COVID-19, and today, the 21st anniversary of the Columbine tragedy, which forever changed my life and so many others. My response to the music is physiological as well as emotional. I feel the sounds pulsing through my body, my heart and my head.

I grew up listening to opera. I have a clear mental picture of sobbing in front of the small, rabbit-eared, black-and-white television in our Brooklyn living room as I watched my first production of Madame Butterfly. I remember going to the New York City Opera with my mother and sister. As the curtain fell at the end of the first act of La Boheme, my mother glanced over at my tear-stained face. “I knew you would like it,” she said.

When I need a good cry, all I need to do is listen to  the famous arias, “Che gileda menina,” “Si mi chiamano Mimi” or “Quando men vo,” from La Boheme. Or “Memories” from Cats. The first recollection of weeping to “Memories” was a few days before Heidi headed off to Cornell University. We sat on the couch, my arm around her, and I broke into sobs at the thought of my daughter heading to school 1,800 miles away in New York.

Other musical memory moments: I grabbed Jan’s hand as we listened to the tenor at Central City Opera. I turned to BJ, and we both whispered “wow” as we listened to Joshua Bell perform at the Ford Amphitheatre in Vail. I squeezed Irv’s knee during a Colorado Symphony performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.

I wonder, is the music so potent because of the memories it evokes – Watching opera with my father? Listening to Cats with Heidi? Sharing moving moments at concerts with family and friends? Or is it the pure beauty of the music? I think it is both, and it doesn’t really matter. The power is palpable.

So as I shelter-in-place and remember the Columbine victims, I will continue to listen to old favorites. And the sound of music will bring tears and solace.

“I pray you’ll be our eyes,

And watch us where we go

And help us to be wise,

In times when we don’t know.”

Lyrics from “The Prayer” by David Foster, Carole Bayer Sager, Tony Renis, Alberto Testa

Never forgotten: Dave Sanders, Cassie Bernall, Steve Curnow, Corey DePooter, Kelly Fleming, Matthew Kechter, Daniel Mauser, Daniel Rohrbough, Rachel Scott, Isaiah Shoels, John Tomlin, Lauren Townsend, Kyle Velasquez

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