|Rhapsody in Blue - Acrylic on canvas - Rina Koshkina|
I've been listening to the WQXR, the Classical Station, since I came to the USA as a teenager, almost two decades ago. All through the first tough years of acclimation and assimilation in the new land, WQXR has been my constant, daily companion.
Through all the difficult AND triumphant stages of my life - births, deaths, “English as a Second Language” classes, college, marriage, successes and failures, "hellos" and "good byes," ups and downs, good times and bad - I knew I could always count on the little black dial of my old warn out radio to transport me into the special world of classical music. A world where musical notes are the ONLY possible native tongue.
In celebration of Thanksgiving, WQXR asked its loyal listeners – what’s the one piece of music they are especially thankful for and why? I couldn’t resist. I had to respond.
Here is what I wrote (more or less):
"Rhapsody in Blue by Gershwin is my personal anthem. I am especially grateful for it because it provides an impeccable musical expression of my memories, of the essence of me and reminds me of...
- Thanksgiving because it was the first holiday I fully understood and appreciated as a new American...and now celebrate it every year.
- The time when my father, a musical genius, had to play in the subway to make a few bucks. He didn’t make any money, but since that time I learned to judge less and give more (or at least aspire to do so).
- The day I took the Pledge of Allegiance to the United States of America. It was at the Jacobs Javits Center in New York City. I remember how I stood there, with my right hand on my heart, proud, with my parents and grandparents by my side, along with thousands of others.
- The moment I knew I am going to make it here and it's going to be okay. It happened when I saw New Your City’s skyline from the window of my uncle’s car. New York City winked at me and said, “Chin up kiddo! You and me – we’ll get along just fine."
- The smile my grandmother bestowed on me when I told her I was pregnant. And then the radiance of her face when she finally met my son.
- The enthusiasm and the hope America represents to me - always has and always will.
- The day I learned how to say “I love you” and not be afraid of the consequences. It’s an acquired skill that comes with practice and courage, until it becomes a second nature.
- The day I was very afraid and knew nothing for certain.
- The day I learned that it’s okay to be afraid, as a long as you forge ahead and that certainty is the new uncertainty, the same way blue is the new black.
So, every time I hear Rhapsody in Blue it offers me hope that there is so much more ahead. I feel an almost unparallel sense of joy. This pure joy and gratitude…for everything and for nothing in particular. A kind of feeling that only comes for no specific reason. In fact, it comes in spite of all the reasons and is often accompanied by a strong, vibrant, honest melody, not unlike Rhapsody in Blue.
Warm wishes, your faithful listener,