Yesterday, I was high as can be when I got to attend the 12th Annual Georgia Sanchez LA Baha’i Gospel Music Workshop. It was held at the Los Angeles Baha’i Center. The Gospel Music Workshop was lead by Mr. Van Gilmer, the music director at the Bahá’í House of Worship in Wilmette, Illinois.
My heart softened, my soul became at ease and my mind found calm and happiness during and after the event. Not to mention my tummy filled with a delicious spread of food (including my favorite fried chicken) served after the workshop. But seriously, it’s really interesting how music can affect our body and spirit in this manner.
It may be weird for some of you to see the word ‘gospel’ and Baha’i in the same sentence. Gospel as we all know is a music genre in Christian music and comes from the African-American religious experience. But Van Gilmer has found a way to merge Gospel music with Baha’i scriptures together and people have found themselves enjoying the music while at the same time being inspired by the messages in the songs.
As someone who grew up in Malaysia, I didn’t have many opportunities to listen to live gospel choirs. I’m not sure when I heard my first live gospel choir but one of the first ones I could remember was in 2009 when Mr. V and I had the opportunity to attend the 3rd Annual Baha’i Choral Music Festival Choir at the Baha’i House of Worship in Wilmette.
I managed to dig up an old picture (below) of the choir in 2009. At the end of the festival, the choir will proceed to stand outside the temple and continue to sing there. Oh, it’s so wonderful.
It was nothing short of spectacular. The acoustics in the Baha’i House of Worship were unbelievably amazing. The high ceilings, large dome and the window ledges surrounding the building created a reverberation and resonance of the voices of the singers.
This Music Festival led by Van Gilmer started in 2007 and draws more than 200 singers from around the world. Since instruments are not allowed in the House of Worship, the concert is comprised entirely of a cappella music. The festival is free and open to the public so if you happened to be in Chicago in May, by all means, attend it.
Music has always been an important part of my life. It started with my mum singing to my sisters and I. Then it turned to singing with my sisters and I. Then, I started singing in the shower (still do). I sing in every choir that I could get myself in even before I attended kindergarten.
Perhaps these past few years, I have become too busy with life and have forgotten how much music inspires me. How much music makes life livable. The Gospel Music Workshop has reminded me once again to keep music close to my heart. After all, music is the ladder for the soul.