Let’s coalesce around the values that music promotes

I haven’t written a blog post for what feels like ages.

In actual fact, the last on I published was early last week.

Perhaps what I really mean is that it feels like it’s been ages since I’ve felt compelled to write. Ages since I’ve felt sufficiently motivated to sit down and write without thinking.

Remembrance Sunday seems to do that.

I’ve written about Remembrance Sunday on the blog before now, a lot of the time accessing memories forged by the music of Rutter, Stanford and various others sung in church services at school.

But that kind of writing is based on the assumption that the memoir is interesting to read because the person writing it has done something interesting or valuable already. What good is memoir?

This Remembrance Sunday presents a different opportunity.

Here we are, 100 years after the end of the First World War, engaged in the impossible task of remembering people who willingly sacrificed themselves amid circumstances the like of which we will never experience.

We’ve watched it our political leaders break from the self-induced madness of ongoing negotiations, battling with the wilful ignorance, arrogance, and belligerence that characterises 2018, lead by Theresa May, our present-day appeaser.

These are the kind of moments I find increasingly difficult to contend with.

I see on the faces of those in control is total incomprehension. Nobody seems able to make sense of it. Nobody is able to beat a clear path.

It’s the language of music which seems to fill the void.

I’ve been thinking this for a while now, but the only truth I can put my finger on are the emotions I hear in the music I listen to. Eric Lu’s Leeds performance of a Chopin Ballade is one example, so too Cedric Tiberghien’s Armistice Recital at Wigmore Hall on Saturday night – a deft collection of careful selected works written during by the First World War.

Thought provoking stuff. Music that holds a mirror up to all the thoughts, feelings and assumptions you never realised you hold.

I foolishly expect music to illustrate an event I have no first-hand experience of. But the music I heard on Saturday night challenged the assumptions I hold generated by the histories of this gruesome period. How can composers who live through this period generate such arresting art? And what will the music be (and when will we hear it) that brings our present-day splintered communities together again?

The irony for me today is that it’s music that makes the most sense to me right now. Music captures, triggers and reflects the emotions we feel, signposting the core values we all collectively hold if only we were all brave enough to coalesce around them.

I hope to God we’re not destined to repeat the same mistakes again. Imagine. All that talent; all that waste.

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