Sunday, September 10, 2017

"Musicians Take a Stand for Refugees"

Orchestra, choir, and soloists ready for "Ode to Joy" on the stage of Hill Auditorium this evening.
Beethoven's Ninth Symphony -- including the splendid "Ode to Joy" -- inspired a large audience tonight in a free concert at Hill Auditorium on the University of Michigan campus. The volunteer musicians in the choir and orchestra hoped by doing so to raise awareness of refugees. They performed with great enthusiasm and beauty, I believe. Beethoven's music is amazing.

Several speakers preceded the performance. One of them described his own experience as a refugee from the Nazis during World War II. He began by mentioning the message of the Statue of Liberty, and also pointing out that despite our idealism, not all refugees have always been treated well here. His family, originally from Vienna, hoped to go to America but became stranded in Switzerland by the outbreak of the war. He contrasted the grudging and unwelcoming attitude of the Swiss to the family's experience when they finally made it to New York in 1948. By implication, I think he was indicating that America is most welcoming to refugees, but can make mistakes -- and obviously the audience knew what present-day mistake he wanted them to think about.

It's very painful, realizing that we are now the perpetrators of persecution, and horrifying to think how difficult it is to find actions we can take to avoid continuing the injustice that's being done. I've always felt it painful to know that the same culture that produced Beethoven also produced the Holocaust, and now more painful than ever because I hate to think that in some future world people of good will might wonder how our most beautiful creative products came from the same culture that is doing these things. And we may be responsible for worse things if we don't find a way to stop our government and its enforcers.

I admire these musicians for trying to find a way to use their talent to protest our difficult situation. Here is the statement from the concert program:
"Musicians Take a Stand is a nonprofit organization based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, dedicated to raising money for humanitarian causes through social media and concerts put on by its members. Tonight's concert is a kick-off for this organization."
The web page about the concert is here:

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