Thursday, March 17, 2011

In solidarity

It is pretty much impossible to find an appropriate musical response to the Japanese earthquake, tsunami and nuclear danger. Music-ish friends, caught up in Tokyo, have largely got out now - the BBC Philharmonic is home safe and sound (tearful scenes reported at the airport) and Japanese orchestras pressed on with their own concerts despite depleted audiences, determined to keep going. Pianist Noriko Ogawa is in Tokyo and was drafted in for an interview on BBC Newsnight yesterday to talk about the ongoing mood: the chief message is clearly a determination on everyone's part to stay calm and continue with life as normally as possible.

As for Libya, while the various international councils argue amongst themselves over what, if anything, to do, Gaddafi's forces seem to be moving in on Benghazi and a hint of horrors unfolding in Bahrain is being masked because, one assumes, there isn't enough time to do Japan, Libya and Bahrain all at once, especially not when Prince William is visiting New Zealand and the aftermath of its earthquake in Christchurch. This is dangerous - personally I'd just like to remind people that in 1956 Russia was able to quash the uprising in Hungary not least because the world was looking the other way, towards Suez.

Update: Stephen Llewellyn of Portland Opera has posted a Youtube message from Sir Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic's concertmaster in Japanese, expressing solidarity and moral support to the people of Japan.

News now in that the Berlin Phil's concert with Bernard Haitink and Leif Ove Andsnes performing Lutoslawski and Brahms tomorrow night, available by webcast at their Digital Concert Hall, will be dedicated to the victims of the Japan tragedy:

Meanwhile, Norman Lebrecht heard that Andre Previn was to conduct the NHK orchestra in a concert in Montreal and asked for an interview. Previn refused (as he usually does - I've never once managed to get him to agree to an interview about anything, not even Korngold). Slipped Disc was not amused.  Norman also reports that the Czech government airlifted the Czech Philharmonic out of Japan and Florence's Maggio Musicale orchestra has somehow managed to get back to Italy. Dusseldorf, where there's a large ex-pat Japanese community, is having a solidarity concert and John Zorn is leading a benefit concert in New York.

Another update: violinist Anne Akiko Meyers has written a blogpost about her visit to Osaka and includes links to relief efforts/donation sites.

I've been hunting for something that shows at least some sort of empathy and solidarity, as far as we can imagine the unimaginable. Here, with the best of intentions, is Jonas Kaufmann singing Florestan's aria from Fidelio.