I’ve been away from work for the past week due to a death in the family, but I’d heard through the grapevine that OSO music director Carlos Kalmar had made some powerful and well-received remarks on immigration and the power of music before each of this past weekend’s subscription concerts. The Oregonian just published the transcribed remarks, and I thought I’d share them with you here.
Ladies and gentlemen, good evening,
I have been thinking a lot about this interesting profession that I am in. I’m not referring to my profession as a conductor, but the profession that we all here on stage share – that of musicians. Musicians express themselves through an art form that does not need any words. What we do is understood by literally everybody on this planet.
I have thought lately that that is actually something wonderful, because we all come here and we play for you. There are these fantastic moments during which we all share the same sentiment, the same emotion. We can be happy together. We can cry together. Whatever it is, we all agree.
And I have been thinking about this unifying power that music has. Where words fail to bring people together, music can.
You know, this is a very personal concert for me. Aspects of the life of two of tonight’s composers-Tchaikovsky, whose homosexuality made him an outcast, and Prokofiev, who suffered political oppression-are a reflection of the things that I have seen in my own life. The Jewish heritage of my parents made them flee their central European home for South America where my brother and I were born. Many years later I immigrated to the United States of America.
It is my hope that tonight you will all join me in reflecting on the beauty that musicians around the world bring to all our lives regardless of their background.