[Clearly I’m still under the impression of “Morgen” at the In War and Peace concert last week, with the image of the sun coming out yet again, eventually. But I’ve gone full Baroque and moved that image for, 20th century Strauss to early 18th century Vivaldi: “Sovvente il sole” from Vivaldi’s “Andromeda liberata”, perhaps best descibed as a collaborative art project because quite a few others had a hand in it, too. Aria sung here by Nathalie Stutzmann, accompanied by her own Orfeo 55. 10/10 on the peace-inducing scale. – Clip with thanks to Jeffrey Stivers]
Buckle in, the plan is to keep writing these weekly reflections with music until a Particular Protofascist Posse has been voted out of office, so that might be some 200+ posts. Some things are not normal and should never be normalized in the face of commen decency and overall Human Rights.
On this side of the Atlantic, it is perhaps the last week where I write this column without living in a country headed by a fascist president.
I don’t like the way my own brain is beginning to work in this election climate, all too ready to expect the worst. This week, I saw a father bring his child to kindergarten, and the father was dressed to intimidate – a tall figure in a heavy, expensive coat, all his movements sharp. On his head, in this urban space, he wore one of those greet felt ‘countryside hunter’ hats that proclaim ‘patriotism’. This week, it made me flinch and wonder what he will vote on Sunday.
I wish I were less afraid.
This week, at a streetlight, there was a man ahead of me who kept spitting at the ground, and who then eyed me. Everything about his posture screamed aggression, as if was just waiting for one tiny spark to justify exploding all over me. I tried to avoid him, but he followed me and said, “Hello.” I tried to ignore him, he said “Hello” again, and I stopped. He asked me for a cigarette and I told him – and I wished I hadn’t been smiling as I have been conditioned to do – that, sorry, I don’t smoke. And he spat at me, “Keep on lying, then!” and walked on.
And I thought, “what would happen in a political system that actively points disgruntled and aggressive people like him at an othered groups, be it migrants or queers or the differently abled?” (I heard this week of non-white friends of non-white friends in the U.S. being afraid to be out too long after dark now. And we’re not on “Buffy”. Actually, being on “Buffy” wouldn’t be the worst thing right now, monsters notwithstanding.)
I want to remember these things. I want to remember that they are not normal, and that I need to find answers and actions in opposition. Like smiling at strangers who do not spit at the ground in front of my feet.
Last week, stray pointed out the importance of positive narratives, and that stuck with me. So if possible, I want to have at least one positive bit in this format, every week.
The DiDonato concert last thursday was plenty inspiring in that regard and would already count as a positive thing per se, but it made me do something I usually would have thought stupid or invasive or embarrassing: the day following the concert was Nov. 25th, which also commemorates the issue of violence against women, and I witnessed, throughout that day, one person on Twitter speaking up, and getting flak, and yet engaging again. It made me feel a litle less discouraged, so at the end of the day, I sent them a private message of thank you (not something Lutherans tend to do, because, you know, you don’t just contact people you do not know). And it turned out I made someone feel a little less discouraged in return.
Super tiny steps.
But steps. And a reminder to not look away, and keep doing the uncomfortable thing of speaking up, even if it is on the easier side: that of supporting instead of opposing because support matters, too.
And I don’t know about you, but since I can use just about all the sunshine I can get, here are a few mor takes on “Sovvente il sole”:
[Cencic with Marcon, clip with thanks to Fred Valefim]
[von Otter because von Otter, with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. Clip thanks to jovi1715]
[Jaroussky with Spinosi and Ensemble Matheus, clip thanks to amorroma1244]
[Bartoli (live take without the da capo) with Saolis, Amsterdam 2011. Clip with thanks to Rachel Jansen]
…you know what’s also heart-warming? Opera houses in the German-speaking countries doing Advent Calendars. Yes, it is December 1st! No matter your faith or non-faith, there is always space for music and for giving each other small things to cause happiness.
Deutsche Oper Berlin does little live concerts daily from now until the 24th, but there is plenty of online seasonal cheer with music (and some prize-winning) to be had: try Zurich (in addition to daily live concerts), Munich (with ticket raffle), Düsseldorf or Cologne.