A benefit concert of Verdi’s Requiem was preformed on January 22 at Carnegie Hall for all those involved in the Darfur conflict. The funds raised will be used for critical humanitarian relief, recovery, and advocacy efforts. Yet the concert was given not only to raise money, but to highlight the plight of Darfur through the power of music, stirring our understanding across cultures and connecting us to our fellow human beings. “As with the greatest works of art, this music expresses the eternal yearning of the human soul to be consoled and rescued in the face of death, regardless of religion, race, gender, age or anything else. There is no more fitting way for us in the musical community to give voice to the acute need, fear, suffering, and hope, of the victims, survivors and refugees of this catastrophe in Darfur,” George Matthew, artistic director. As we were listening to a recording of this concert in class, each student was asked to select 3-4 images that we had found online that we thought were represented by the music. After all 16 students submitted, we watched the slideshow of photographs while listening to the closing movements of the Requiem.
Obviously, connecting photos to music correlates with the photography sessions that we have been having this past week. Photographs strongly communicate to their viewers. Music also strongly expresses and communicates something to its listener. Although we perhaps can not pinpoint what exactly was happening or what the composer preciously intended when he wrote the piece, we can still understand the universal truths it reveals: love, happiness, pain, suffering, death, etc. In this particular situation, we knew what the piece connected to (at this point in time was used to represent the conflict in Darfur). By connecting our knowledge of the conflict along with music to represent that conflict, along with images that connected both the knowledge and the music together, the presentation was powerful and effective.
It’s sad to say that I am not nearly as informed on the genocide occurring in Darfur as I should be; such an incredibly important issue that I haven’t given serious study, time, or energy to. I really enjoyed the activity today because, as a musician, I truly do believe in the power of music, and once again today, that point was proven; music is the universal language that speaks to ones soul. Typically when I listen to music I close my eyes because they distract me, but today, by watching the slideshow while listening, there was an even stronger connection to what the music was saying. If we would have had more time to compile the pictures, I think it would have been even more powerful to connect the right picture with the right moment in time with the music-but then again, for each person that may have differed in their interpretations. That’s another beauty of music-it speaks to each of us individually and collectively.