Make Music

Bernstein on violence

The story goes that Leonard Bernstein was in his office, studying a score and preparing for his rehearsal that night with the New York Philharmonic when he got word that President Kennedy had been killed.  He chose to have rehearsal anyway and told his musicians “This will be our reply to violence.  To make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.”

It’s only been a couple of days since a single shooter, for reasons that are not yet clear, opened fire on a concert taking place on the Las Vegas strip.  59 people were killed, hundreds wounded.  He was using an automatic or semi-automatic weapon and firing from the window of a nearby hotel.  Of course, gun control has become a discussion again – as it should – and there is some disagreement over exactly which floor he was on, how many weapons he had in the room with him, and no one has offered a hint as to what drove him to commit such an ugly act.  He had no prior criminal record and law enforcement officials have not been able to solidly connect him to any radical, extremist groups.  So we’re baffled, questioning, maybe even arguing a bit, but we are all hurting for those affected by this horrible night.

I saw a video today of the 59 who lost their lives.  I was struck by one thing – the diversity; different genders, ages, ethnicities . . . you get the idea.  They weren’t all one “type” of person.  But they had come together to share an experience – a concert.  They were together to enjoy music.  As a lifelong musician, that touches me.

I have a friend who is a choral director at University of Nevada Las Vegas and he has reached out, asking for recordings of choirs – all ages, locations, school groups, church groups, community groups, whatever! – to record themselves singing something you are working on right now, and sending it to him (if you are interested in taking part, leave your email in the comments and I’ll get you some info!).  His desire is to share these recordings with his choir students.  Imagine the impact of seeing total strangers you may never meet, but with whom you share one thing – you sing.  It doesn’t seem like much.  But the healing that music can bring about is very real and very powerful.  I can speak from experience.

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