Easter Sunday 2020 will go down in history as being the first of its kind to have occurred during a global pandemic. One of many “firsts” that we have had to get accustomed to: slow days, quiet healing, periods of inactivity, no gatherings…because that’s what isolation does: it makes us realize what we have taken for granted and forces us to think “outside the box” on just about anything, to tread lightly on familiar ground.
And hope….that is the “first” to go and to be tested when the going gets rough.
Many of us did not look forward to Easter this year knowing that the tradition would not be the same. Instead, we made due as we have for some time now and have summoned the courage to get through yet another adjustment and disappointment. It seemed natural that we all needed a little something extra to get us through that day, and we found it, in the form of an operatic 30 minute concert given by none other than the talented Andrea Bocelli. It turned out to be a most memorable moment witnessed on YouTube over 30 million times within the first 24 hours. Record-breaking views aside, it was a moving testimonial to the infinite power of music, to its ability to transcend age, race, religion, and culture and Bocelli has single-handedly mastered this, if only to spark what we already knew: that we will get through this no matter how long it will take.
You didn’t need to be a fan of opera to appreciate Bocelli’s powerful performance, nor did you have to relate to his deep affection for his native Italy. His message was clear and his music was the vessel by which he transmitted hope in an otherwise dark world. It was a poignant image of a lone man who, in stark contrast to the hollow emptiness of the eerily quiet Duomo di Milano, reflected the dire circumstances we have all been subjected to: the unsocializing of the human race tempered by its shared sadness and fear.
Bocelli’s impassioned renditions of Panis Angelicus, Ave Maria, Sancta Maria and Domine Deus, would have been enough to make anybody a believer but it is his last song, Amazing Grace, which he sang a cappella outside the majestic Cathedral, that resonated the most as a global call to restore some sense of normalcy. It was heartbreakingly beautiful in its simplicity and yet was a haunting reminder that as we fight the loneliest war, we are all dealing with uncertainty, devastation and perseverance.
Bocelli’s “Music for Hope” was exactly that. It was a pause for reflection that we truly needed and years from now, it will be remembered as a significant comforting moment, and so much more….