I am sitting in the lobby of Mees Auditorium at Capital University, I’m in a small alcove off to the side of the main lobby, sitting on a couch next to music lockers and a low table with a very academic lamp. There are two other men sitting with me. We haven’t acknowledged each other. One is reading a novel with his glasses unworn and hanging from his shirt collar. The other man has just finished a bowl of BibiBop Korean food and is now squinting at his laptop. The three of us wait in our own little separate bubbles, waiting for Junior Winds rehearsal to finish.
Our little area is quiet enough that I can hear the familiar sounds of this building that I have known for over 30 years. I can hear Mr. Dowdy in the auditorium, giving instructions to my daughter and the rest of the Junior Winds ensemble. I can’t make out any words, but I know his voice and know his patter with the students a little at this point. The echo in the auditorium isn’t friendly to an human voice without amplification, but it loves the sound of music, and soon I can hear the swell of horns and winds.
I can also hear conversations of students passing by from one room to the next. Some conversations sound earnest and academic, others dumb and irreverent. These are also sounds very familiar to me. At one time they were conversations I had in this space, long ago. Now those conversations belong to others while i hear them as ambient noise.
I like coming here to Capital. I like that my constant returning here over the years…first as a student, then alumni, then as a faculty spouse, and now as a parent… has prevented the home of my youth from becoming alien to me. It is not my home anymore, but neither is it so far removed from me that I feel uneasy here. It has simply become one of the many settings of my life, holding music and the love of music within its walls, constantly welcoming new voices in and then later propelling those voices out into the world. So many of my friends became music teachers, band and orchestra directors, professional musicians… and then there’s me, who did my best to help my kids love music even more than I do.
Tonight I am grateful for music. For its ability to bind my family together even during the rough times. For its persistence in breaking through the power of my own personal demons. I am grateful for Mees Auditorium and Capital University. I am grateful to professors and peers who helped me be the best singer I could be during my time here. And I am grateful for every note that I hear tonight, echoing off the walls and through the halls of this place that has loved me so.