"THIS WILL BE OUR REPLY TO VIOLENCE: TO MAKE MUSIC MORE INTENSLY, MORE BEAUTIFULLY, MORE DEVOTEDLY THAN EVER BEFORE." - LEONARD BERNSTEIN
This quote really rang true for me this week on a number of levels. For one thing, the attacks in Beirut and Paris and Afghanistan this week have been foremost in my mind, and I can't help but feel a little meaningless living alone on the other side of the world. I also couldn't help but feel extremely selfish when I looked at the news on Friday evening and I remembered a whiny tweet I had posted earlier. After a two week hiatus from work, I had made a complaint about "returning to hell" last Friday afternoon. I've been so wrapped up in trying to disconnect myself from the "9 to 5" life to pursue music full time that I felt it was necessary to tell the whole world I did not want to go back to a retail environment that day.
Perspective changes a lot when the whole world is falling apart.
After hastily tweeting a response to my earlier comment, I spent the rest of the evening scrolling through feeds and talking with customers about the atrocities unfolding in Paris. It was then that I stumbled on this quote, bringing it right back to what I had been obsessively deliberating about all week.
My form of peace is not legislative or an epic decree. My form of peace is not stripping away my privileges and throwing myself into a third world country to give my service to others (although one day I hope to do so). My form of peace is not proclaiming it loud from a handwritten sign or yelling at a crowd from an ignored soap box. My form of peace isn't responding to world events as they happen on social media platforms (although yes, I realize I am doing that here, it's a first go around I guess)...
My form of peace is my work. It's music. It has to be. People choose to pour their life into morals and goals and challenges and careers and they can use that energy to promote happiness and love or destruction. Sometimes we don't see the difference, and sometimes we know exactly what we aim for.
I want to give every ounce of my being into music. Why? It can save us.
I don't mean that singing and holding hands together is the cure to hatred in this world and that we should make everyone do so, what I mean is that music is a savior to the soul. A whole audience may not be moved by a symphony but certainly a single individual may feel their life change before their eyes. A chorus may not be singing through the streets of chaos but a mother may sing to her child in a basement hiding somewhere. It is those people, the lone voice singing on a video camera as bombs are heard in the background; those are the people I write for.
In the last few years, I have made the choice to make music my religion. I see life and death in the duration of a piece or a melody, I see creation in my own compositional process, and I see the beauty in nature in the science that allows humans to comprehend different pitches and timbres. Music allows people to abandon their inhibitions and self doubt and worry and just open themselves up to the sounds, whether it be at a rave or a concert hall or hidden away in a pair of headphones. It brings people together during peace and war. It tells our stories, our hopes and dreams, our struggles, and our promises. I will continue to write for those singing out in despair, the lone voices that are making a prayer of peace in the destruction. Those brave voices make up the orchestra of my inspiration, and if you are that voice, I will write for you too.