As The Rest is Noise at Southbank Centre reached the 1970s, the composer Sofia Gubaidulina arrived to talk to us about spirituality in music. With Dr Marina Frolova-Walker from Cambridge to translate for her, this living legend spoke not only of those times but current ones as well; and she articulated some deep-seated truths about composition and culture that I suspect many of us sense but could scarcely express so well. Today, Gubaidulina said, is the most dangerous time humanity has ever faced, because we are facing "the global impoverishment of the human soul". We are in danger of losing the most human part of ourselves.
Art, she suggested, is always spiritual, because it springs from the subconscious, intuitive part of the mind. It reconnects us with a higher power, the higher part of our own spirit. This also serves as a moral force: she suggested that those who have lost touch with this aspect of art/culture exist without the knowledge of humanity's sensible limits, and she added that she sees such people around her all the time. Art, however, can be our "salvation".
As the space for the quiet, intuitive, spiritual self is eaten up by the ever-increasing flow of technology, information and the superficial part of the intellect, so that aspect of ourselves reduces until we risk losing it altogether. And that is what's dangerous. Along with the fact that art cannot exist without support, which means there must be people/organisations who believe in it enough to provide that support, if it is to survive...
The talk should in due course be available to listen to on the TRIN website and I'll post a link when it is up. Read more about Gubaidulina in this wonderful interview, and don't miss her violin concerto, 'Offertorium', which is to be performed on Wednesday night at the RFH, along with three works by Arvo Pärt.