Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Conductor as fine art mime.

    “Back in 2000, I had the opportunity to go to South Africa to form a new opera company. So, I went out there, and I auditioned mainly in rural township locations right around the country, about two thousand singers. Pulled together a company of forty of the most jaw-dropping amazing young performers the majority of whom were black; but there were a handful of white performers. Now, what emerged further into the rehearsal periods was one of those white performers had in his previous incarnation been a member of the South African police force. And, in the last years of the old regime, he would routinely be detailed to go into the townships to aggress the community. 

    “You can imagine what that knowledge did to the temperature in the [rehearsal] room, to the general atmosphere. Let’s be under no illusions. In South Africa, the relationship most devoid of trust is that between a white policeman and a black community. How do we recover from that, ladies and gentlemen? Simply through singing. We sang; we sang; we sang. And amazingly, new trust grew and indeed friendships blossomed. That showed me such a fundamental truth that music-making and other forms of creativity can so often go to places where mere words cannot.”

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