When the September sun lay low over the wheat fields we drove into town for a moment of music. As the last light wandered across the window, the church filled with crisp snow falling, bears and wolves wandering in deep pine forests, Nordic mythical beings dancing, and always, always an ominous backdrop layered under a wistful allure.
Many composers painted feelings. Jean Sibelius covered the canvas with nature landscapes. Sitting in the church pew I wondered whether Sibelius was a painter or a composer. Perhaps he saw tones where painters saw colors. Perhaps he was the most skilled painter, able to do what canvas painters never could: a bear illustrated by sound will ultimately conjure an image of a live, moving bear in our minds.
While dusk overtook the sunset, the double basses unleashed the bear’s heavy walk in the woods, followed by the celloes that sketched a fox trotting over the grass. And then the creatures were gone, overtaken by the wind in the pine trees, and my contemplations of the sinister undertow and what the inner world of Sibelius must have contained.
(Loviisa, Finland; September 2014)