On Sunday evening, my wife Jan and I attended Vesper’s at the Bay View Association, a 137-year-old Chautauqua founded by Michigan Methodists on Lake Michigan near Petoskey. A Bay View staple since the 1800s when families gathered at the end of the day to sing hymns, this ongoing tradition has evolved into a magnificently eclectic concert series.
I was reminded at this gathering that it’s a privilege to live and work “Up North” in Michigan during much of the summer. Although it’s easy to become distracted in such a beautiful natural environment, I remain solidly connected online, on my mobile phone and via FedEx with colleagues and clients throughout the world. Technology enables me.
My life and especially my work in strategic communications has become, to a great extent, a virtual enterprise.
Meanwhile, Bay View is still, as described in the Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad Resorts of Northern Michigan in 1862, “Simply a collection of grand, good people of all creeds, who, because of common consent and under democratic government, flock here in the summer to renew their friendships and help each other to all other enjoyments possible.”
The juxtaposition of my digital life online and the Sunday Vesper Concerts that bring thousands to the John M. Hall Auditorium at this Chautauqua-type summer assembly was captured perfectly by Bay View artistic director Chris Ludwa in the evening’s program.
“In today’s society, the prevalence of communication devices and access to recordings should make us feel more connected than ever, yet many in our society complain of feeling empty and disconnected,” Ludwa wrote. “Perhaps the unique, transformative experience of live musical performance is the salve that brings us each back into alignment with what it means to be both human and spiritual.”
Live human interaction is, in fact, both transformative and memorable. Communicating in person is powerful.
“Mozart may have written a piece in 1791, yet the moment when you experience that work on stage tonight will have never occurred in history, will never occur again in exactly the same way, and is deeply personal.”
Isn’t it true that most memorable communication in life and work is delivered and received live?
“I now pronounce you man and wife.”
“Congratulations, it’s a boy!”
“It’s a girl!” “
“Graduates, turn your tassels.”
“You’ve got the job!”
“I’m giving you a raise.”
The creative, communicative power of a live performance is like oxygen to both performers and audience. I think in-person communication can have the same effect generally, when it’s authentic and delivered clearly.
After all, unlike my e-mail inbox, the Bay View live performance had a beginning and an ending. It wasn’t delivered by webinar. No voice mail was involved. I even had a pleasant exchange at the Will Call window. And like the performance itself on Sunday night, Ludwa’s message was welcome.
“Switch off your phone. Treat yourself to a rich, meaningful, and uplifting experience.”
“You deserve it!”