On That Note… – April 2013

“This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.” –Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990)

When I was younger, I struggled with my professional identity. Here I was – composing songs, playing piano, conducting ensembles – while the news were full of war, pollution, people living in horrible conditions. What right did I have do spend my time on the trivial joys of making music while there were so many things going wrong everywhere? Shouldn’t I be a doctor giving vaccines to children in Africa? An environmental activist chaining myself to a Norwegian whaling ship? Or, at least a social worker trying to improve the injustices in my own community? Art of any kind seemed a selfish pastime, designed to distract us from the far more important issues that we needed to address.

It has taken many experiences (some big, but mostly small) to convince me that art is not a luxury for wealthy white people, but a crucial need for every single human being. I have come to realize that feeding the soul is just as important as ending physical hunger. In fact, much of what artists do enables others to continue the work they are doing – by lifting their spirits, and reminding them of what is important in life.

When I walk from the Annex to the Sanctuary (or the other way around), I do not always take the time to study the beautiful paintings in our Unity Gallery. Yet I can feel that they contribute to the sense of peace and joy that I experience when I am at the U. White walls would not have the same effect.

So let us draw, paint and sculpt. Let us write and dance, sing and play instruments – as intensely, beautifully, and devotedly as we can.

It may look like play, but it is holy work.

Markus Hauck
Music Director