Our Parisian-inspired season took on new meaning following the November attacks in the week preceding our second concert. Our ensemble musicians hold France close and dear to their hearts, which is what inspired our current season. Moved by recent tragedy, together we decided to dedicate our remaining concerts this year to ongoing suffering in Paris.
Below are Co-Artistic Director Susan Billmeyer’s remarks that opened our November 22nd concert. Tragedies and rising tension at home have added even more poignancy to her words. We hope to share with you the passion, beauty, and love in music that will overcome these horrific events.
Susan Billmeyer, November 22 2015:
When we planned out this season focused on Paris, today’s concert was meant to be the light-hearted one, the fun and bubbly side of the French temperament. But as it turned out, Fate had other plans…so I want to say a few words about the ongoing tragedy in Paris before we begin.
In my mind, Paris represents beauty, intellect, style, philosophy, and above all, Art. And the arts remind us of the deepest and sweetest aspects of our own humanity. To those who would crush the joys of human existence, who would strip our culture and reject all the things we love and respect, we INSIST on continuing to celebrate who we are and what gives us joy and pleasure on this planet: our HUMANITY and the uplifting power of BEAUTY.
And in the face of total hatred, destruction and murder, the vital importance of what we do on this stage snaps into focus. We have the incredible privilege of maintaining great music and passing it on to our audiences and the generations after us; these are beautiful, IMPORTANT things that give us pleasure, soothe our pain, and invite dreams into our minds. Against terrorists, who will not look us in the eye, who reject culture out-of-hand in order to remain hate-filled, we fight back with music that represents the heights of what humanity can be.
Leonard Bernstein wrote the following in response to the assassination of President Kennedy: “This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.”
All the pieces on today’s program have laughter and sunlight in them (and a little Parisian snark)–but they also carry tinges of sadness, of poignancy, of smiling through tears, and to start today’s concert, Jane and I are thrilled to be playing this glorious Poulenc Flute Sonata. And as much as we love the sparkling energy of the outer movements, we call your attention especially to the deeply beautiful and heartfelt second movement as an expression of all the complex emotions we feel now… as we dedicate this concert to those who died in Paris (and all the other places torn apart by violence), to our defiance of fear and hate, and in celebration of the remarkable French culture that gave rise to this wonderful music.