Now hear this

Dave Fielding
Dave Fielding. Photo by Tracy Walsh

If you want to firm up your body, head to the gym. If you want to exercise your brain, listen to music.

That’s the prevailing wisdom from the docs at John Hopkins University.

“There are few things that stimulate the brain the way music does,” said one Johns Hopkins MD in the article Keep Your Brain Young With Music. “If you want to keep your brain engaged throughout the aging process, listening to or playing music is a great tool. It provides a total brain workout.”

Indeed, research has shown that listening to music can reduce anxiety, blood pressure and even pain as well as improve sleep quality, mood, mental alertness and memory.

Dave Fielding of Apple Valley — this month’s Cover Star — doesn’t need to be convinced of the power of music. Get him talking about music — especially historic choral music — and he gets a mighty twinkle in his eye.

Fielding has adored music his whole life. As a youth, he yearned for a career in music, but instead worked as an executive in the airline industry for 30 years, singing in choirs wherever he could. After retirement, however, finally he was able to devote himself to music full time, and in doing so, discovered a one-of-a-kind calling as a musical archaeologist for the nonprofit Oratorio Society of Minnesota.

During the past few years, Fielding has shaped the choral music scene in the Twin Cities by bringing lesser-known works to audiences, including the 2014 world premieres of The Music of Downton Abbey and A Downton Abbey Christmas, to name a few.

What’s so amazing to me about Fielding isn’t just that he finds old or lesser-sung choral works. It’s that he then converts the hieroglyphic-like scratchings into modern-day sheet music using the digital software known as Finale.

“It’s resurrecting the music so that others in the future can take it to whatever level they want,” Fielding said. “This is my legacy.”

And what a legacy it is, and continues to be: Fielding’s latest effort — Lest We Forget: World War I Armistice Centenary Concert — is a co-production of the Oratorio Society and the University of Minnesota School of Music.

I hope you can go see this performance, set for Nov. 11.

And I hope you enjoy reading the full story of the man behind the music!