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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Washington Voices

Essay: Music’s power can draw out emotions


Anna Tibbetts, a sophomore at Oaks Christian Academy, won the Spokane Symphony’s 2014 high school essay contest.

In her winning essay, “The Power of Music,” Tibbetts describes the program for the symphony’s “Power of Nature” concerts this weekend with pianist Jeremy Denk. The symphony performs at 8 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday at the Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox.

Tibbetts won tickets to the Sunday concert and an iTunes card. She will also be acknowledged during the concert and meet conductor Eckart Preu backstage.

Tibbetts enjoys singing, writing, reading, baking, sewing and dirt bike riding. She plays the piano, and her favorite subject in school is Latin. Tibbetts’ essay follows:

It is amazing to me the power that music can have on the human soul. Music can, wordlessly, effortlessly even, stir up any emotion: joy, sorrow, peace or fierce anger. Composers can make you feel as though you could touch the clouds or as though you have reached the deepest parts of the pit of despair. James MacMillan, Maurice Ravel and Jean Sibelius are all composers who have wonderfully achieved this.

In his three interludes from “The Sacrifice,” James MacMillan wordlessly describes the horrors and beauties in sacrifice. He tells a story of love, heartache and sorrow with simply sweet or harsh tones of the woodwinds, percussion, and string instruments. You can nearly see what the sounds are telling you. You can feel the power of each action of the various characters. MacMillan’s music is truly spectacular.

Maurice Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G major is likewise a work of beauty and art. It makes your heart dance and walk on a high tightrope all at the same time. Its unresolved tension leaves an empty, expectant feeling in your gut. Parts of this song remind me of a tune that would be played to accompany a silent film; I can almost see the characters flitting across the black and white screen. They would be searching through an empty house, when quite suddenly, a ghost, goblin, or evil creature would jump out! The scene quickly becomes something happier though; couples dance in a ball room, the women’s long dresses sway around their slowly moving bodies while the men stand solid, but joyful to dance with the ones they love. Ravel’s piano piece portrays both excitement and elegance and it truly stands out among those written during its time.

Jean Sibelius’ Symphony No. 1 in E minor is a very cleverly written piece. It glides through the air and interacts with the listener. The strings beckon you to come and join them in the wonderful dance of music. The brass section adds a radiant and overwhelming power to the piece. It makes you feel infinitely small in the whole scheme of things. The ending is piercing and crushing to the soul; lifting you up then dropping you flat on your face for what I like to call a punch-in-the-stomach ending.

Music has a power like none other over the human soul. It can move one to feel any emotion; sorrow (MacMillan’s piece), joy (Ravel’s piece), or an overwhelming power (Sibelius’ piece). Music has captured the human race since the beginning of time and will continue to do so because of its unique ability to make man feel again.

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