When East and West Meet: The Buddha’s Light Youth Symphony Orchestra in Concert
Hsi Lai Temple is a fully engaged spiritual and cultural center committed to bridging East and West by making the Buddha’s teachings of kindness, compassion, joyfulness, and equanimity accessible in ways that all might come to know the true nature of things. The Buddha’s Light Youth Symphony Orchestra is a beautiful and powerful example of the Temple’s remarkable work.
Led by conductor Jorge Luis Uzcátegui, over 50 young musicians ages 8 to 18 delighted a packed house at St. John’s Cathedral. Parents holding sleepy children, along with friends and strangers, filled row after row in the teeming audience. And the performance soared far, far beyond expectations. It was by all accounts an extraordinary evening.
Focused, Intense and Adorable
It wasn’t just that the young musicians were as accomplished as they were adorable… and they were adorable. One little boy in particular exemplified their disarming blend of innocence and grit. Impeccably dressed, he leaned forward, bow ready, violin in position, eyes glued to the conductor, music open, ready… Only a second glance revealed the striped socks peeking from under the perfectly pressed trousers on feet too little to reach the floor.
His colleagues were each just as focused, intense, reverberating with eagerness and energy. They had come with their families early in the day to prepare under the watchful eye and baton of their immensely talented conductor.
The dedication of these youngsters (and their families) was palpable. Impressive. Inspirational.
An Indescribably Special Evening
But it wasn’t just the young performers and their families that made the evening so special. It was something at the very heart of the music itself. Something elusive, profound and difficult to explain, something of the Temple itself.
The ancient Chinese understanding of sound is profoundly different than the Western view.
The Chinese traditionally believe that all sound plays a powerful role in influencing harmony in the universe. Where the West tends to see music as entertainment, the ancient Chinese believed music is meant to purify one’s thoughts and energies. In keeping with the Dharma, the pure, clear melodies of Buddhist music are designed to provide a pathway to the higher spiritual states. They heal, enrich and re-energize the heart and mind.
And that’s exactly what the music did in the hands of these dedicated young musicians and their special conductor. The Buddha’s Light Youth Symphony Orchestra lifted world-weary hearts and filled the space with joy.