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Black Friday music

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Music at Kwantlen

Music at Kwantlen

Last Friday was Black Friday, the yearly celebration of mindless consumerism.  Time magazine called it a “calm” event, since only one person died this year in the fight and trampling, as opposed to four in 2008.  Sheesh.

My own Friday was quite different: I happened to be on Kwantlen’s  Richmond campus and emerged from a class to be treated to beautiful live music.  This was an initiative of our music program, and students were playing selection of classics from the romantic era, on piano and violin.

There’s nothing like live music as a full experience.  There’s the beauty of the music itself, of course; but also the energy of the performers (there were few enough of us listening that eye contact was possible), and the often forgotten realisation, with the amazing accoustics of the campus foyer, that the sound of live performers just can’t be fully captured in recorded music.

As I was listening it also occurred to me that this was an activity that is completely carbon neutral.  Performing arts, be they music, theater, or whatever, can bring up amazing emotional joy without resorting to any kind of artifice that is damaging to the environment.  The same thing is true of painting, photography, writing…the arts, in general.  This is where real human wealth lies, and it is infinite; there is no limit to human creativity.  There is an argument out there that environmentalism is about hair-shirt deprivation and general no-fun attitudes.  But that is just plain wrong, and the richness of art attests to that.

This was a free concert – or, should I say, free to the public. But it isn’t free to society: there’s a fair chunk of public money that goes into maintaining a school of music, to say nothing of the personal investment of these students in time and tuition.   As a taxpayer, I applaud this and want more: funding arts creates a public good that weaves society together. Thought that was the last thing on my mind (I was just transported by the music), I was watching a live creation of social wealth.

Sigh.  I had to leave, couldn’t catch all of it.  But afterwards, for some strange reason (it wasn’t one of the recital pieces), I found myself humming to Farewell to Stromness.  That’s a piece that was created for the 1980 Yellow Cake Revue, a musical protest to the then-proposed uranium mine in the Orkney Islands.  The composer is Peter Maxwell Davies, famous for his experimental classical work.  But as the crowd were bracing themselves for some difficult piece, they were delighted by a deceptively simple, beautiful melody evocative of the majesty of the northern islands.  I found a version transcribed for guitar, played by the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet.  A real treat.

If you ask me, that’s a far better use of time than trampling someone to death over a flat screen TV.  And they say environmentalists are no fun?  Pfff…   



Written by enviropaul

December 5, 2013 at 12:13 pm

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