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artistic responses to tragedy

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The posts on the NYCB thread regarding Saturday's performances and whether Janie Taylor or any of the other dancers might have been affected by the horrible news of Saturday morning have prompted me to post about another performance that I saw Saturday night. I was also at NYCB for the matinee and will post about that on the appropriate thread, adding my opinion to those that are already there. But I did want to talk about the NY Philharmonic on Saturday night as well.

The evening began with a short speech by Zarin Mehta, executive director of the Philharmonic, who spoke of the shocking news and asked for a moment of silence in memory of the lost lives.

The Philharmonic then played the most stirring and impassioned concert I have ever heard. I have heard the NY Phil many times. I would not usually describe them as playing passionately. They are an outstanding orchestra, if a bit stodgy and correct. This concert was an outpouring of emotion, and I was reminded of the performances that happened almost spontaneously after September 11, and how much the arts became a part of the healing process. Once again, I found solace and comfort in performance, as our nation, and the world, are once again grieving.

There was no mention of the tragedy at Saturday afternoon's NYCB. It had only happened a few hours earlier and details were still limited. I am not saying that either approach--recognition or not--were correct, I am not criticizing either company.

I do agree with Juliet that the tragic events of Saturday morning affected everyone--those on stage, those in audiences, and those everywhere else too.

Columbia seven, rest in peace.

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I was in junior high when President Kennedy was assassinated, and one of my strongest memories is that that evening, there was television coverage of a concert -- I believe that, too, was the NY Philharmonic. I've often thought of that since. Today, we would have had 24/7 coverage -- has she told the children? what was the last meal? interviews with every living soul in Dallas. The concert is a much more pleasnat memory of a terrible day.

I do think it's hard to second guess how artists are reacting to a national event. They're people first, artists second, and one person might be incapacitated by something that upsets them and someone else might say, "what a shame" and continue making dinner.

I also think it's a hard call for arts organizations. What counts as a tragedy? The Shuttle because it's a national mission? An airplane crash that kills 300 people? Yes, if the latter's passengers included children?

It's an interesting question, and one that everyone -- especially the artists and company directors -- will answer in a different way.

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In talking with different people about this, specifically the reaction to the Columbia tragedy, there almost seems to be a "disconnect". And I don't mean to discount what's happened by any means.

But I think maybe because it was an accident, there's a different response. I think in a post 9/11 world, when tragedies occur, it becomes a media event and everything becomes a little more sensational.

Ebay had to take pieces (alleged) of Columbia debris off that people were auctioning. That in itself made cnn this morning.

And I don't want to rephrase anything else Alexandra just posted !

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