I was invited to arrange and perform the Star Spangled Banner for a Portland Trailblazers basketball game on St. Valentine’s Day with Carin Miller, principal bassoonist for the Oregon Symphony. Being the day that it was, I wondered how could I arrange it into a love song. The thought came to me to try an adaption of the Prelude from the famous Bach Suite #1, and it worked!
The evening came, 18,004 people in attendance. Just before they ushered us out to the middle of the court, I took a minute to expand my heart to fill the stadium. I was amazed to feel how easy it was to reach up and into the highest tiers. I’ve done this thousands of times in performances, this one just happened to be 10 times the size. Size and distance is no challenge for love.
They announced us (and even pronounced my name correctly!), and In the few seconds before we played, I invited every single person into my focus and experience. I was amazed at the quiet.
As I began the intro, the amazing PA system amplified my sound with ease. I knew it was reaching every corner. Carin’s bassoon sang out with such power and resonance, and something amazing came through. As we finished, I felt like we had shifted the energy of the audience. Maybe you’ll feel it as you listen.
Alas, it wasn’t a big enough shift to empower the Blazers to win—tough game for them.
Thinking back on it, the biggest impact I think our performance had was to give people a chance to reconsider what patriotism can feel like—not the patriotism that says we are separate and superior, but the patriotism true to the word’s origin from late Latin patriota ‘fellow countryman’. We are all fellow citizens, and we can be brave enough to share love with one another, despite our differences and backgrounds.
I hope you enjoy.