Dans l’âme

[It seems all we are doing these days is singing songs of loss: I know I cannot keep up with marking the atrocities happening (or this would be a blog with daily news on Syrian air raids), but I commented upon Paris. I commented on Brussels. I commented on Orlando. So of course I will comment on Istanbul. And an on how aghast I am at the lack of  coverage in Western European media. This is right next door, and there should be no coverage amount doled out by faith preference. – Jordi Savall, members of Hesperion XXI and musician from a variety of faiths playing “Üskdara” at the 2012 Léonie Sonnings Prize in Copenhagen, 2012. – Clip with thanks to Nick Rasmussen]

Even this clip – and I took a while to settle on it, also because opera quotes seemed unfitting in the wake of another terrorist attack with how Muslims tend to be othered in the admittedly Western genre – is figured around an experience of loss: It is a performance of a song Montserrat Figueras sang (her recording is played in the clip) mere months after her death, played by musicians who have performed with her, including her husband.

Jordi Savall has done a variety of projects with a strong interfaith focus and perhaps it is more important than ever to celebrate in sound what faiths, or life perspectives in general, have in common, as we are faced with barbaric attacks, again and again, that try to pit them, to pit us, against each other.

My blog primarily deals in Western Art Music and queer female representation, so it’s not centered on topics  associated with Islamic cultures, but I know I have Muslim readers, too. Now and then, when I find the time to check my stats, I see the countries people hail from, and I see the little flags from Turkey to Kuwait, from Lybia to Saudi-Arabia, from Pakistan to Malaysia (and I think about my queer contents and laws in other countries and hope that you are safe).
And I think of how Orlando hit me, of how it hit “my family”, and this sensation may be the same for many of my international Muslim readers these days, living in all different kinds of cultures, Western or Eastern. And I am thinking of you and share your grief.

Despite the not-that-prominent news coverage (Brexit still wins out across the E.U.), I felt a little uplifted by the following image of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin (which was lit up in rainbow colors after the attack in Orlando) that can be found on the central German news site today:

Bildschirmfoto 2016-06-30 um 08.51.05.png

And in thinking of music building bridges: I know that Beethoven’s 9th Symphony is the overquoted equivalent of a two-by-four in that regard (or I may simply be too Baroque for its monumentality?), but perhaps that is just the thing I need to listen to today.

My Facebook notifications were too slow, so I missed yesterday’s post by current Greek soprano favorite, Myrtò Papatanasiu, on her recent Beethoven 9th (at the Akropolis) being aired  on Greek TV/webTV last night, but if it shows up on YT, I will add an update note here. I don’t know about you, but I could do with a solemn bit of joyous hope right now, for all of us.

Meanwhile, I’ll be listening to Savall’s Orient-Occident (which the post title is borrowing from) and think of lives senselessly, brutally lost and their families, and strive even more for understanding, and beauty, and love.

15 thoughts on “Dans l’âme”

  1. Thank you for still finding the right words for this, with everything that is happening in the world these days it is hard not to simply remain speechless. This music is sad and still gives so much hope, showing how mutual understanding, respect and kindness across cultures is possible.

    As a similar ‘crossover’ ensemble, I’d like to mention Pera-Ensemble, founded by musicians of Turkish origin, which I stumbled upon a while ago, and really enjoyed their interpretation of
    this duet from Händel’s Agrippina.


    1. I just opened the clip and wanted to ask “weren’t they in Halle a few years ago”?
      yes, that’s them! Another slice of a shared respect for the beauty of music…


    1. this may be one of the hardest things to listen to, because of the context. I clicked away again three times because I am always reminded that she was younger than I am, and that she had a young child who died with her (along with her husband) and then I cannot listen to anything.


  2. …and now Baghdad again – more than a hundred victims, and just at the end of Ramadan, too. The lines are not between religions, they are between decent human beings and fundamentalists.


    1. If fundamentalists = people who kill and welcome killing, then Yes.
      Weapons manufacturers, paymasters, governments, armies, flag-wavers, and all the ones who teach that heroes kill. The ones for whom religion, language, clothing, loving, are excuses to kill. Whose image of justice, even of conscience, is the gun, the bomb, the sword. Those for whom killing is simply pleasant, as in Baghdad–in 1258, when civilians died by the hundred thousand.
      Decency grows between murders like a flower in a rockslide. All we can do is our best.


    1. I find myself asking again and again these days whether it has always been like this and I have simply been criminally unaware, or whether these past few years have been one quickening spiral of loss across the board (yet always hitting marginalized communities more). I look at intact flowers, at genuine smiles, and am more afraid for them, yet also more grateful, then ever. But it is still something that should be easy burdened with a melancholy lurking underneath, caused by the context we live in.



      1. During Les Trentes Glorieuses, prosperity was widespread, and despite the Cold War, we were hopeful. More recently, prosperity has been limited and unreliable, and many are fearful–with good reasons, and also because fear can be advertised to create markets: in entertainment, in politics, in weaponry. During good times (before World War I, before the Great Depression, and amid recent economic bubbles), culture and tolerance flourish. In difficult times, they require protection.
        Donnez encore un exemple à la terre, grands dans la paix.


        1. à des efforts nouveaux, then (to continue, and to protect). Current Western politics feel like a free ticket to a piece of absurdist theatre – I keep expecting at least an intermission, but there is none. At this rate, Hannigan’s Ligeti is far more coherent than, say, the current British choice for State Secretary. Or just about any Secretary, really.



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