Last week, I had that experience of being immersed in art that is so much a part of living in New York City, that sense of pleasure and privilege at being a part of something that you know adds beauty to the world. A group of sophisticated New Yorkers were transported to Edith Wharton's gilded age at the premier of Philippe Treuille's Requiem sung movingly by the SymphoNY Chorus and conducted with passion by Maestro Henric Idestrom. The nostalgic world of the 19th century came alive through celestial sounds that filled the sanctuary of the landmark, neo-gothic Church of Incarnation. All there were literally surrounded by art in every form. Tiffany stained glass windows after designs by Burne Jones, William Morris paintings by John Lafarge and sculpture by Augustus St. Gaudens blended with the deep beauty created by this young man.
I had to ask myself as a psychologist, what is it about this city that gives birth to and nourishes this kind of talent over and over again? There is art in the DNA of New York City that literally pours forth from all of its beloved nooks and crannies. From Lincoln Center to the subways, we are treated to every kind of performance, the creative energy that lives and breathes here is palpable. This is still the place that young artists come to make their mark, to stimulate themselves and to be part of the creative vibe that has been here for so long. That creative combustion that nourishes, tests and inspires the making of art. The night did not disappoint. It was one of those evenings, tucked into yet another evocative corner of the city that made everything about the church and the people in it appear alive and inspired. The music did what real art does, it elevated those witnessing into a moment that connected us and gave us a glimpse into the mystery. The Requiem asks for "rest for the souls of the departed"... "Give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit." (Isaiah 61:3). Maybe that's what Philippe Treuille's gift was to everyone that night, gladness and praise instead of a faint spirit." And maybe this is the artist's gift, to strengthen our spirits and impart a kind of reverence for what Joseph Campbell called, "the experience of being alive."