As many of you know, a few weekends ago Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey devastated my beautiful city of Houston, TX. In the days since I have found myself reflecting upon a certain magic that accompanied the storm.
Overall, the national/local news has been really great at updating the world with pictures and video footage of the first responders rescuing families, animals, and elderly folks from the floods waters, but I have had a few personal experiences that I wanted to share…
The first instance came as I was cleaning out my Aunt’s house, in a community near the famous-for-overflowing Braes bayou. After a rough few nights, Harvey left feet of water, flooding her beloved home, destroying much of the original character of this 1950s gem, and gifting her with a mess of soggy furniture to be disposed of. However, on our days cleaning the mess not 1, or 2, but dozens of people, many random neighbors, stopped in to see how they could help. In fact, one neighbor even bought several dozen pizzas to share and invited the whole block in for a much-needed break from flooded home cleaning. These random acts of kindness were just the first example of what I now refer to a good ol' Houstonian magic.
Instance number 2 came as I was shopping for groceries at a local HEB. While I was in the produce section a woman kindly stopped me to ask a question about the store and followed it up with “How is your family? Did they fare well in the storm?” This woman did not know me or my family. Then, while waiting in the monstrous checkout line two men struck up a conversation with my sister and I to comment on our excellent wine & alcohol taste, offering up some tasty cocktail recipes in the process, and finished the conversation with “We hope you and your family are fine and if they are not, that they find the help they need.”
As the last few weeks have flown by, I have seen COUNTLESS instances of this magic. I call it magic, simply because I am convinced that this city has not only proven to be a great city, but one that has cultivated a community of kind, selfless, caring, and thoughtful human beings. In today’s world, that is magic.
However, this is a blog about the arts, so let’s talk about the arts in Houston. Harvey didn’t skip over our beloved theater district , flooding several of our local institutions including the Wortham (Houston Grand Opera), the Hobby Center – Zilkha hall, the Ballet, the Alley theater, and much more. So, over the last week, our arts community has come together to figure out their first move. In response, many have chosen to set aside time for concerts, performances, silent auctions…etc. all to benefit the great city we live in. In other words, fall concert planning has been put on the back-burner, in order to deal with the task at hand.
Just last night I had the pleasure of attending the #HarveyReliefConcert presented by Apollo Chamber Players, Musiqa, and Jazz Forever.
When trying to decide how best Apollo could help the city, ED Matt Detrick began coordinating this event with the hopes of donating all proceeds to Catholic Charities and the Greater Houston Community Foundation. The evening provided not just a wide array of folk music, composition premiers, and a big band finale, but a moment for hundreds who had weathered the storm to come together, finding refuge and calm through the power of art and music.
See, more magic.
One of my favorite art songs, An die Musik by Franz Schubert, puts it quite perfectly.
Du holde Kunst, in wieviel grauen Stunden,
Wo mich des Lebens wilder Kreis umstrickt,
Hast du mein Herz zu warmer Lieb' entzunden,
Hast mich in eine beßre Welt entrückt,
In eine beßre Welt entrückt!
Oft hat ein Seufzer, deiner Harf' entflossen,
Ein süßer, heiliger Akkord von dir,
Den Himmel beßrer Zeiten mir erschlossen,
Du holde Kunst, ich danke dir dafür,
Du holde Kunst, ich danke dir!
You, noble Art, in how many grey hours,
When life's mad tumult wraps around me,
Have you kindled my heart to warm love,
Have you transported me into a better world,
Transported into a better world!
Often has a sigh flowing out from your harp,
A sweet, divine harmony from you
Unlocked to me the heaven of better times,
You, noble Art, I thank you for it,
You, noble Art, I thank you!
While our city continues to rebuild, it is my hope that you all can find refuge. Whether it be through music, art, football, food, or some other favorite past-time. I hope you can tap into a bit of this Houston magic and get back to some sense of normalcy.