BY DAN MILLER
(originally posted April 21, 2005)
For him, that was often the case when he led the Hong Kong Symphony.
Kenneth said that conducting is, "a musical language - it does not translate into words".
A conductor's language is, he said, "singing - mimicking..... singing at the orchestra, and they play it back".
Kenneth was a master of leadership and persuasion.
His orchestras played music the way he knew it should be played.
And whether or not it was his intention, I found Kenneth Schermerhorn to be a bit of a poet.
In an interview, I asked him to talk about the power of music..... to talk about what music does to our brains that can make us happy or sad -- that can make us cry, or sing, or dance.
Here.... verbatim.... is what he told me 20 years ago.
I've taken the liberty of printing his answer, in the form of poetry:
I just know
That fundamentally, the rhythms of music
Are so aligned
With so much of our kinesthetic equipment.
Our heart beats, and
We walk in tempo
We tend to do things in tempo.
Most of our lives
Most of our movements, are duple --
We have two arms and two legs,
We breathe in and out
And most, or much, music fits
Into that category
And matches it --
And inspires it --
Or mimics it --
But the idea of music
As an expressive form --
That's just so elusive.
It's architecture melted
It's poetry that's frozen --
It's vaguely specific, and that
Is the great intrigue of it.
That it says something absolutely specific
To everybody, but no one can say
What specificity was --
No one can describe
What the feeling was
Because any five people
Listening to a Beethoven symphony
Will describe their feelings
About 12 years ago, I was in the Belle Meade Kroger late one night, and happened across Maestro Schermerhorn near the refrigerated meats and salad dressing section.
Being a sophisticated and cultured man, he would -- I figured -- pick up some caviar, or truffles, or perhaps petit fors, or a rack of lamb.
But no. He said, "I have a craving for sauerkraut."
We chuckled, and he walked away with his jar of refrigerated sauerkraut.
That night, at that moment, his words sang to me.... and I played it back.
I headed to the cashier with my own jar of chilled sauerkraut.