Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Daniel Barenboim is one of the great conductors in the musical world today. In 1999 I participated in a masterclass with him and wrote down a quote he gave that I thought had resonance:

"If you wish to learn how to live in a democratic society, then you would
do well to play in an orchestra. For when you do so, you know when to lead and
when to follow. You leave space for others and at the same time you have no
inhibitions about claiming a place for yourself

Democracy is indeed a core part of the orchestra experience - no matter where you sit or what you play, your voice is critical to the success of a performance. It takes only one discordant sound or jaded attitude to tarnish something that otherwise would be beautiful. Everyone is valued, everyone is important, everyone counts, both on the stage and in the audience.

I'm thinking today of this ideal since the time to vote in this year's election has arrived, and I know that music will be part of what is for one candidate, consolation, and the other, victory. No matter which person wins, music will be part of how we respond to the outcome. This is fitting, since music really is an art form that is representative of our democracy at its best.

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