Monday, March 16, 2009

Saving the Planet, One Concert at a Time

(Can you tell I like to sing?)

I was just sent the most amazing piece about music, and I had to share it with everyone I know.

It is Karl Paulnack's welcome address to the freshman class at Boston Conservatory, which ends thusly:

Frankly, ladies and gentlemen, I expect you not only to master music; I expect you to save the planet. If there is a future wave of wellness on this planet, of harmony, of peace, of an end to war, of mutual understanding, of equality, of fairness, I don’t expect it will come from a government, a military force or a corporation. I no longer even expect it to come from the religions of the world, which together seem to have brought us as much war as they have peace. If there is a future of peace for humankind, if there is to be an understanding of how these invisible, internal things should fit together, I expect it will come from the artists, because that’s what we do.

To understand how he arrives at this conclusion, read the whole thing here: Karl Paulnack's Address to the Freshman Class It is totally worth the time and effort!

Paulnack also relates his own NYC memories of the post-9/11 tragedy. I personally have never felt I provided so much vital service as I did singing for God-knows-how-many funerals in the months that followed. Listening to music is about that only thing that people can bear to do when they're that grief-stricken.

I'm reminded, too, of a passage in William Byrd's (Virginia planter) diary where, in order to make the point that his African slaves were not as intelligent as whites, he offers as evidence the fact that after a hard day of labor, instead of going to bed and sleeping and getting their rest, they danced and sang around the fire, further wearing themselves out. I always thought that this proved just the opposite: that the slaves knew perfectly well what was good for them and that Byrd was a dumbass.

Anyway, I love what I do, and I agree that it's vitally important to the planet. Here's another concert picture: ScottieDog giving me a reward for a job well done!

(P.S. Obviously these are really old pictures, from back when I had my Hillary Clinton hairdo.)

[ADDENDUM] One of my ensembles did a school event just this morning (3/17), and during a Q&A session a kid asked "How do you keep your voices so crispy?" (We had him repeat the question several times, so we knew for sure that was the adjective he was using.) My friend Stephen said afterward that he wanted so bad to answer "We have to get fried on a regular basis," but he wisely refrained.


Sbanfnyc said...

I always liked that pic and was giving you the kiss for your efforts to save us all. Music, well done, is an inspiration to humanity that we can overcome any obstacle.

You are the best!

solarity said...

Thanks for the link--no one's ever said it better.

Mary Anne in Kentucky

POD said...

This is my third day of reading this post. Life keeps getting in the way of my commenting. (I guess I should take the hint. )

The picture is really great of you both. I bookmarked the link for Paulnack's address and will read.

Crispy voices is funny.

Elizabeth said...

I read that speech recently (it's been flying around Facebook) and it made me cry.

But I had never read that Byrd quote before. It's hilarious--in a sad way. He clearly thought of them as cattle. ("Stop that, you're making yourselves tired and stringy!")

fillegrenouille said...

Jez-o-Pete, Elizabeth, you crack me up.

I hope you guys rewarded that child (with tons of positive feedback) for an excellent word choice!!