I have no idea.
But whatever it was that inspired it, the celebration was breathtaking – a program that plucked the most talented musicians and ensembles from across the world. The proportions of the performance were monumental; the music spun classical and rock and jazz and folk and opera and rhythms I cannot describe. There were politicians there as well, but for a change they were silent and the emphasis was not on them but on the music itself, on a drum solo following an aria following a piano concerto following gospel singers in a rousing chorus that had everyone on their feet in a thrilling surge of energy and harmony.
And given the ubiquity of the internet – the performance was broadcast simultaneously not only in North America, but across the world.
We were listening gathered around our televisions and our computers, and I walked outside and heard the music streaming from homes and cars and spilling out onto sidewalks. Then the applause began. It rolled up from living rooms and kitchens, from porches and stoops, and broadcast on our screens we saw people rise to their feet in applause in one breathtaking, unending simultaneous standing ovation that seemed to have a life of its own.
It was applause for music that moved us, that encompassed us, that was strange to us, that united us, that defined us, that elevated us. And it was applause for politicians stepping into the background so it was no longer about them but about us. And men and women were no longer fighting and angry; they were reaching out to each other, and clapping together, and the sound was thrilling and staggering as the applause picked up steam, city by city, and we watched it all happening live – the exuberance of it, the ease of it, the simplicity of appreciating music as a means to our own stepping back. And I remember thinking this is historic: we have come together without tragedy as the impetus, so this must be possible.
And then of course, I woke.
But I woke to a sun drenched day, to the knowledge that my sons are well, to a surprising sensation of lightness and the bright knowledge that if we can dream it, surely we can build it. And if the dream is music with something for everyone – without anger and without divisiveness – perhaps there is good reason to believe in the spontaneous Standing O.
© D A Wolf