Dr. Eldred Marshall, Artist-in-Residence, Associate Director of Music Ministries

My community orchestra, the Mansfield Philharmonic, began rehearsing Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony in mid-July to start preparing for our re-opening concert in September.

I chose the symphony because it represents victory against struggle. However, I came to learn that my “victory pose” was premature.

Given the state of the COVID-19 variants, I had been fielding calls and texts from worried orchestra members for weeks, wondering if we’re going to do our September Beethoven concert as planned.

After being inspired by the outdoor concert I gave in Los Angeles two weeks ago, I finally had the answer I sought.

I took two hours to re-plan and spread the entire orchestra out over the entire chancel of First United Methodist Church Mansfield and into the rafters near the organ pipes.

I required everyone to wear masks, despite vaccination statuses.

Once everyone streamed into the sanctuary to start rehearsal, I finally gave my answer to the entire orchestra assembled:

“Several of you have texted, called and shared your concerns over the variants. I want to address that right now.
“We will have the concert as scheduled, as planned. The concert will continue, come hell or high water. We’re still having this concert. 

“If the church shuts us down because they don’t want outside activities in here due to the variant, there is a big parking lot right next to the sanctuary. We’ll set up a tent, and keep on pushing.
“Keep September 19 on your calendars and perish the thought of cancellation. Board members, if you want to have a meeting about any of this, put it on the agenda. We doin’ this.”

The thought of an outdoor concert strikes dread in many classical musicians because our instruments are designed for indoor use.

But given where we are, is it better to sit at home, bored and silent, or to play outdoors where it’s safer for human beings to gather? 

I chose to defiantly decide the show will go on because music is my ministry, and it cannot be silent.

Where do you see yourself in this story?

What is your “God put this in my bones; it must be heard” struggle?

In whatever it may be, remember that if you are working for God, you can’t lose, even if everything around you looks bleak. 

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