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ursus maritimus

"passionate and serene, profound and simple, affectionate and proud, subtle and straightforward"

Last night I went to the concert of Hopkins Symphony Orchestra.
The orchestra, to my surprise, is very professional and well-trained.
The Mendelsson’s violin concerto, one of my favorites, is well rendered, despite that to me the violinist is a little bit overwhelmed, and there are several gaps where the orchestra and the violinist are disjoint.
But anyway, this is a live performance and it’s unfair to compare them with those legendary recordings such as that of Kyung Wha Cheung.

However, the most impressive part throughout the concert is not the music itself.
At the beginning of the second half, instead of starting right away, the conductor first took over the microphone and said a few words about the Ferguson incident.
The last sentence he said was (this is an approximate quote since I don’t really remember the exact words):

We have already witnessed so much violence in this country. But we will continue playing our music, and even in a way that is more moving and beautiful.

This reminded me of a clip from Władysław Szpilman’s book The pianist I happend to have read a few days ago:

One day, around 5th August, when I had taken a brief rest from work and was walking down Gęsia Street, I happened to see Janusz Korczak and his orphans leaving the ghetto. The evacuation of the Jewish orphanage run by Janusz Korczak had been ordered for that morning.

The children were to have been taken away alone. He had the chance to save himself, and it was only with difficulty that he persuaded the Germans to take him too. He had spent long years of his life with children and now, on this last journey, he could not leave them alone. He wanted to ease things for them.

He told the orphans they were going out into the country, so they ought to be cheerful. At last they would be able to exchange the horrible suffocating city walls for meadows of flowers, streams where they could bathe, woods full of berries and mushrooms. He told them to wear their best clothes, and so they came out into the yard, two by two, nicely dressed and in a happy mood.

The little column was led by an SS man who loved children, as Germans do, even those he was about to see on their way into the next world. He took a special liking to a boy of twelve, a violinist who had his instrument under his arm. The SS man told him to go to the head of the procession of children and play – and so they set off.

When I met them in Gęsia Street, the smiling children were singing in chorus, the little violinist was playing for them and Korczak was carrying two of the smallest infants, who were beaming too, and telling them some amusing story.

I am sure that even in the gas chamber, as the Zyklon B gas was stifling childish throats and striking terror instead of hope into the orphans’ hearts, the Old Doctor must have whispered with one last effort, ‘it’s all right, children, it will be all right’. So that at least he could spare his little charges the fear of passing from life to death.

Music never outvoice the growling of “state apparatus”.
But we need it all the time.
Because even in the darkest of hours, it still gives us hope.

That’s why we love it.

And there flows the disturbed opening of “Romeo and Juliet Overture”.