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Newtown

Colleagues and Friends,
 
Please excuse the off-topic post.

Yesterday, we experienced a tremendous national tragedy on our doorstep. We weep for the children and the parents, for colleagues and friends, for the living and dead. Everyone not killed is wounded.

The futility, the waste, brought to mind these phrases from the Britten War Requiem, the poetry by Wilfred Owen,

Was it for this the clay grew tall?
O what made fatuous sunbeams toil
To break earth's sleep at all?

Britten's answer, and ours, is prayer.

Love to all,

David Katz
The American Prize
Danbury, CT
Replies (12): Threaded | Chronological
on December 15, 2012 8:04am
Not off topic.  When horrific things like this happen everyone here turns to music for solace.  We may listen or we may compose.  We may cry, yell or go to bed but such a tragedy is life shaking for many, myself included.  As a father and elementary school teacher I am shaken.  My post yesterday is the piece I turned to, Prayer of the Children http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=khRznLpLpHc.   I welcome and encourage anyone who would  be comforted by sharing to post lines of text, original or quoted or links to recorded media in this thread or forum.  Include links if you embed video as most get these posts in emails which do not include embeds.  
 
Sincerely,
Jack Senzig
on December 15, 2012 7:11pm
David, please accept my condolences for you and your community.  

It was tough teaching young children in music class yesterday after I heard the news.  

Have I composed anything in response to these kinds of events?  Not really.  I have ideas, but sometimes things are “too close” for words–at least at first...sometimes for a long time. 

***
Update:  I had written the above reply but decided not to post it because this whole “happening” is difficult to write about.  However, later in the day I received my “composer copies” of “Where Is My Lamb?” (I had heard the recording but hadn’t held the sheet music yet).  Suddenly, I realized that perhaps I have written a response to these kinds of events...albeit unknowingly.

Since the lyrics tell of the Good Shepherd seeking and saving a lost lamb, I had been surprised to see that a website had included the piece in its list of “Funeral and Memorial Anthems”.  However, when I listened to the piece again in that light, I understood how it could be interpreted that way.  So sometimes our words can say more than we know.  And sometimes a metaphor or parable can be used to express the inexpressible.
 
on December 16, 2012 12:57pm
David, my condolences a well, to your and your community. Unspeakable.
I will spare you my anti-gun rant (I am a veteran and grandson of hunters), and just pray for healing for you and the families of the victims.
 
When it happpened, I was working on a new piece for children's/community choruses about healing the world and living in peace, for a contest, and had a momentary thought to dedicate it to the victims--but then I felt, as I usually  do after reflection on such impulses, that no matter how sincere, the gesture could still be perceived as exploitive. So instead--if I win the contest, or at the first performance in any case, I will instead simply ask that the performance be so dedicated.
 
It's not much, but if we can't take care of our children, how can there be hope for our world?
 
Best regards,
 
David Avshalomov
on December 16, 2012 2:53pm
Dear David,
 
Yes, this tragedy is at our doorstep... yours, mine, everyone in our nation.  I cannot escape the talking heads in my mind, on the TV (even putting it on Mute).  There is no way to mute what we, as a society and as individuals are experiencing at this horrific and senseless tragedy.  As a nation and as neighbors, we should hold one anothers hands as the children and teachers did and guide one another to a safe and sane place of reason and, over time, healing and resolve.
 
However we choose to do so, through our music or our actions as individuals and citizens, we each, hopefully, will find our own voice to address this national tragedy.
 
Thank you so very much for bringing this to our List.
 
Love,
Adrienne Albert
on December 16, 2012 4:26pm
This discussion and the tragic events in Newtown call to mind for me the following quote attributed to Leonard Bernstein, which points to one option out of many for how we can respond to this unspeakable tragedy: "This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before."
 
Respectfully,
John Muehleisen
Applauded by an audience of 1
on December 16, 2012 4:35pm
David,
 
My condolences to you and those around you. In the words of Leonard Bernstein "This will be our response to violence: To make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before." I have been thinking a lot about John Tavener's "Song for Athene": "Alleluia. May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest..."
 
I normally do not respond openly to tragedies of this sort, but I have had a text in hand by Rabindranath Tagore for the past several months. I had begun working on a piece with the intention of dedicating it to friends who are being blessed with the birth of their first child. But since the events in Newtown, I have been reading this poem quite differently. In part, "Bless this little heart, this white soul that has won the kiss of heaven for our earth."
 
And thank you Mr. Avshalomov for your words about being "exploitative." We need to be careful that we not use this tragedy to our own benefit; that is unfortunately for the pundits. I had been thinking about inscribing a dedication to the victims of this on the score, but your words made me realize doing so would be somewhat crass, especially with wounds so fresh.
 
Jason Lamb
on December 17, 2012 3:14am
We are artists.  It is our role in life to provide solace at times like this through our art.  I see no problem with dedicationg our work to the ones who have lost their lives or loved ones in this tragedy.  I know some people may accuse us of being opportunistic.  As long as I know I am creating art for the purpose of my own and other's wellbeing I am OK with that.  I am trying to organize a choir to make a tribute video.  Everyone involved will be abundantly aware of my goals and will contribute.  Should someone say I am acting inapproriately, I would say I am acting as I must, to do what I can for my community and my country.  
 
On Facebook I posted a prayer as that is where I communicate with my closest friends and family.
Here I posted a video that I thought would help others.
On YouTube I hope to place a video of a song I think will hekp children and families.  
 
Dedicate your songs to those your heart tells you to.  Do those who have died deserve to be forgotten?  Should the opinions of a few stop us from sharing our art with those who remain?  I see this as ministry. 
Applauded by an audience of 2
on December 17, 2012 6:22am
David,
So grieved about the tragedy in Newtown.  As a resident of Jonesboro, AR, and know people who were involved in the Westside tragedy here, I can sympathise with your loss. 
So sorry.
Jon
on December 17, 2012 9:04am
Thanks...
 
Thank you to Jack and to all who have offered solice in the wake of these events, which have left our office reeling—some of the victims (or their families) just one step removed through colleagues and friends. It has been a terrible time.

I was especially moved by the Bernstein quote, which I had forgotten, and by the sincere and thoughtful ways each of us strives to find meaning, or comfort, through words, thoughts, deeds, and of course through music.
 
We hug our children harder, and cherish our loved ones a little bit more as a result of this—better that it would not have happened and we would all have done those things anyway.
 
All best,
David
 
 
on December 17, 2012 10:29am
There is no breath for words to speak,
And tears have blinded sight.
No place of refuge can I seek,
The days have turned to blackest night.
 
There seems no end to grief and pain,
No comfort do I find.
Each gesture empty, all in vain
To heal a shattered heart and mind.
 
My faith is gone and hope has fled,
The terror will not cease.
Please take my hand and promise
You will help me find some peace.
 
 
Applauded by an audience of 3
on December 17, 2012 3:29pm
That is a moving poem, Julia.
on December 17, 2012 4:42pm
Living thousands of miles away, uncomprehending and asking the unanswerable WHY?  Why kill children?  And their teachers?
 
So many innocents die at the hands of a young man.  Why?
 
This seems to happen now so frequently.  Why?
 
This slaughter of the innocents must never happen again.
 
Peace and comfort to all who are sufferng as a result of this horror.
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