Saturday, November 12, 2016

Attending A Concert As An Act Of Defiance

[I'd suggest you first start the video below so you have appropriate background music to the post.]

Obama,  when talking about Trump's election, reminded people that the sun would still come up tomorrow morning.  I want to remind everyone that the sun came up every morning over the killing fields of Cambodia.  It came up every day over the Bosnia-Herzogovenia massacres.  And it rose when people were hacking their neighbors to death in Rwanda.   The sun rising doesn't measure normalcy of human behavior.  And while I'm not anticipating mass murder, if Trump carries out any of his key campaign promises, millions of lives are going to be severely disrupted.  Suicide hotlines have lit up since the election, particularly among the already vulnerable LGBT community.  And if protesters are are labeled as traitors.   . . . As the Gessen Rules for Surviving Autocracy tell us, we can't accept slippage of our standards of democracy as the new normal.

Thursday night we went to musical event to support the protestors at Standing Rock.  There was a series of different bands who played short sets.   Lots of dancing and good music at Anchorage Community Works near Ship Creek.

But you don't have to go to something that is specifically a protest concert or a fund raiser.  Good artists are the most consistent speakers of truth in any society.  When you create art without using words, it's harder for authorities to detect the offense.  But authoritarian governments often shut down artists because they know they are among the least obedient members of society.

That's all the more reason to go see their work - to support them morally and financially.

Friday night we went to UAA to an Anchorage Festival of Music presentation of "The People United Will Never Be Defeated!" by Frederic Rzewski.  The UAA ticketing website describes it this way*:
A Tour de Force for Solo Piano
One of the most magnificent piano works of the 20th century, this 'tour de force' is a theme and variations of epic proportions. It is frequently compared to Beethoven's Diabelli Variations or J.S. Bach's Goldberg Variations. Taking his theme from a Chilean worker's song, American composer Frederic Rzewski crafts 36 variations exploring a variety of music styles from neo-romanticism to jazz and the avant-garde. Commissioned for the celebration of America's Bicentennial.
No matter what happens in the November elections, remember that The People United Will Never Be Defeated!"
(*since the concert's over this page may disappear soon.)

This work was more than appropriate for the beginning of the Trump era.  Cedille Records writes:
"This riveting, audience-pleasing tour-de-force is a nearly hour-long set of 36 variations on a popular Chilean protest song from the era of Augusto Pinochet’s repressive right-wing military dictatorship. applauds it as a work “of bewildering and amazing variety, ranging from serialism to jazz to romanticism to the further reaches of the avant-garde and back” and culminating in 'a superbly emotional climax.'” [emphasis added]
Pianist Stephen Drury is a world class pianist. Again from the ticketing page,  
"The Anchorage Festival of Music joins forces with UAA to present Stephen Drury, one of only a handful of pianists who give live performances of this piece. According to the New York Times: 'Mr. Drury’s playing is extraordinary. He plays the entire program with technical command, keen ear for color, vivid imagination and probing intelligence.'”
Stephen Drury at UAA 
Drury gave a brief introduction about the structure of the piece, then sat down and started playing - no sheet music - for nearly an hour from genre to genre united by the familiar theme.

It was almost like magic that a man could sit at the piano, stretch out his arms and make such incredible sounds come out of the piano. There were moments when I though there must be a couple more people playing that piano with him because there was such an overwhelming wall of music.   And, of course, the UAA music recital hall is a gem of space to hear live music.  It's intimate and the acoustics are incredible.

So this post's recommendation for standing up against autocracy is to patronize the arts.  Go to museums, to galleries, to concerts, to theater.  Invite artists to play when you give a big party.  Give money if you can to support artists to keep their creativity and honesty alive.  Your support allows artists to work on truth.  Smart dictators coopt artists - paying them to compose the soundtracks for tyranny and to illustrate propaganda posters.  That's much cleaner than having to detain them or kill them.

So we need to support artists so they can survive financially making honest art.

Below is a Youtube  of The People United Will Never Be Defeated.  It is NOT from Friday night's concert, but it's to get you in the mood.  Youtube identifies this pianist as Yuji Takahashi.

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