One of my mentors once said that people who have seen war are often the gentlest, most peaceful people. Some are committed to leading lives that foster understanding, even while haunted by the horrors of war. Some seek to draw attention to tyranny and hypocrisy, to prevent the abuse of power and the oppression of innocents. I think of my father, a gentle Vietnam veteran who served as a Green Beret, who then devoted his career to international legal reform, working to ensure the rule of law in developing democracies. I was always moved by my dad's work for education and the rule of law, a commitment that seemed to have been both forged through his experiences in Vietnam and, to Dad, part of the same desire to help make the world a better place that caused him to go to West Point in the first place.
Our responses to war seem both universal and highly individual. My father is one example. Francis Poulenc is another. It's incredible that, amidst the chaos and cruelty of Nazi-occupied France during the second world war, Poulenc received the rebellious poems of Paul Eluard and set them to such exquisite music as Figure humaine. He was taking tremendous risk by writing this subversive work, but he responded to war as an artist can, with a thought-provoking, powerful work that transforms the audience.
The works on our upcoming War and Peace Concert this weekend seek to illuminate the deepest of human questions. Why do wars exist? How can we, as individuals, hold on to our humanity and our free will under a dictatorship? What is the personal and family cost of honored military service? Can there ever be peace on earth?
I am struck, as before, by Leonard Bernstein's inspiring quote, "This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before." Resonance may not be able to answer these human questions, but we can explore them through music. The music you will hear at these particular Resonance concerts will remind us all that we can hold on to ideas of freedom, family, and peace.
I really hope you will join us for one of these concerts. The show on Saturday, June 13, at 7:30 pm will be held in the wonderful acoustic of Lincoln Recital Hall at Portland State University. We will close with a 2 pm Sunday matinee at First Presbyterian Church as part of the Celebration Works Concert Series.