Sunday, August 10, 2008

Real Music Will Do This To You

My family never had to work at being Jewish.

That is what we were.

Thus, I don't think I heard the self-conscious kvetching of klezmer music, with its store bought gaiety and off-the-rack minor key sadness, until I was in my 30's or 40's.

The house I grew up in - my grandparent's house in North Winnipeg - was filled with music.

But none was ethno-centrically Jewish.

It was the music of Beethoven and Ravel, Gershwin and Leiber & Stoller.

There were Hebrew texts and Yiddish short stories, no doubt, but there was an ample supply of Joyce and John O'Hara and Somerset Maughm.

Usually when I listen to music, I have no apparent thoughts. I am happily hearing the music itself.

But last night, at a wonderful concert by the Leipzig String Quartet - part of Festival Vancouver at the Chan - my mind wandered back a mere 60 years.

The players were playing Mendelsshon, most beautifully.

Maybe I had heard this piece somewhere long ago. I don't know.

But I had certainly heard this kind of moment many times before.

Intricate melodies and rhythms, now powered, now delicate.

I curled a little lower in my seat, leaning a little closer to my friend. I was at home.


No Doubt there is Some Explanation for This

In case you might have thought that evil has disappeared in the world or that it always shows bared teeth, witness the horrifying and astonishing story of food supplies in Sudan.

The NY Times chronicles this morning a tale of a country receiving tons of free food, growing billions of dollars of its own food for export (including to feed camels in nearby countries) and starving its own masses in Darfur.

No doubt this is all done with the customary well-tailed diplomacy that shields inhumanity everywhere and in all times.

Chet Baker