It’s music to my ears

Father Mark Goldasich is the pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Tonganoxia. He has been editor of the Leaven since 1989.

by Father Mark Goldasich

I get tickled when people ask, “Do you play a musical instrument?”

The first answer that comes to mind is “the flutophone”, which was part of my early elementary school years. I’m sure my parents – and neighbors – were brought to tears as I played “Lightly Row” over and over again.

But my answer to the question is, “Yes, I play the tamburitza.” As they stare blankly at me, I say, “Now don’t tell me you’ve never heard of Croatia’s national string instrument!

People rarely have.

During my elementary and secondary school years, I belonged to the St. John’s Catholic Club Tamburitzans. The specific instrument I played was the “prim” (pronounced “preem”), the smaller tamburitza and similar to a mandolin. In addition to the ability to learn to read and memorize music, we Tamburitzans became familiar with the culture of our grandparents. We sang in Croatian and did traditional kolos (circle dances). But our repertoire also included songs and dances from many other cultures and musical styles.

We even cut six albums – yes, LPs. (By the way, I appear on the cover of the fourth album, “Ljepa Jela” (“Beautiful Helen”), serenading Monica Yadrich under a willow tree in Loose Park. Fortunately, very few people recognize me younger!)

The Tamburitzans have performed many concerts in the Kansas City area and nationally. I was part of the first band that went to Croatia, where we even played on Radio Zagreb.

I say all this to commend professional musician Ashley Stanfield and St. Agnes School in Roeland Park, our front-page story, for offering violin lessons to students there. Giving time after school to learn to read music and master a musical instrument will pay dividends for years to come and add beauty not only to students’ lives, but to everyone who listens to them play.

Stanfield, who belongs to the Opus 76 string quartet, is part of the Candlelight musical series. Although I didn’t see her perform, I attended my first candlelight concert on September 7 at the Gem Theater in Kansas City, Missouri, with the Fountain City String Quartet playing music by Coldplay. The hour-long performance, lit by hundreds of (battery-powered) candles, was beautiful and mesmerizing. What is captivating about watching live music is not just listening to the melodies, but watching the body language of the musicians, seeing how the music envelops them.

More information about candlelight performances can be found on the website listed on page 4. Tickets are affordable and would make an ideal gift.

Why is music so important in life? Martin Luther said it well: “Beautiful music is the art of the prophets which can calm the agitations of the soul; it is one of the most magnificent and delicious gifts that God has given us.

Go ahead, unwrap one of these gifts now!

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