Beyond the Music

In a recent article in the New York Times, Zachary Woolfe analyzes the Bolivar Symphony’s performance at Carnegie Hall’s opening night. Woolfe, the classical music editor for the New York Times, briefly talks about the actual performance of the evening and then continues to politically analyze the orchestra and its musicians. Not many people are aware of the political impact and representation that symphonies have today, and Woolfe calls this out. The Bolivar Symphony comes from Venezuela, where there is an economic and international struggle. Woolfe observes that if anyone were to just look at the musicians in their tuxedos and dresses and how they were into the concert, no one would assume that they are coming from a politically difficult country. In addition, the conductor, Mr. Gustavo Dudamel briefly mentioned in his speech that despite the “difficult times” in their country, the musicians were still in love with what they do. Mr. Dudamel also believes that despite the political difficulties, the musicians come together and can put aside their differences to make music. Woolfe concurs that the musicians have the “luxury” to be free of political ties, but cannot say the same for those in the audience. He points out the beauty of music, that it is a universal language that brings people together no matter what background each individual musician might come from. And, in my experience, I believe this is true. As a musician myself, I’ve had the opportunity to play with other people from different countries and backgrounds, and we have been able to get along just fine, musically and personally. Once the music starts, the focus is on the music and art of making the music. Woolfe, however, also makes a point that there is no “apolitical culture,” moreover “apolitical culture consumers”. How was the Bolivar Symphony funded? Why is it, that despite the economic struggles its country is going through, the symphony and its musicians seem at bliss in music? Woolfe says that if we demand to know where our chicken comes from, we should also know how the money funding these symphonies is being made. I agree that as audience members, we should be attentive to the political underlying of the symphony and its music. However, also as a musician, I believe that musicians shouldn’t have to worry about anything else other than the music.

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