Sweet Strings Of Vigilance
Sweet Strings of Vigilance--Violence and Terrorism can be lulled into peace and tranquility.  A group of former Russian musicians play with Vigilance.   Their average age--25.  They quell the Beast of Terror's thirst to kill and maim.  They honor all who have died at the hands of Terrorism, and play for the hope of Vigilance in the future.



Wednesday--October 30
, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 413
Sweet Strings Of Vigilance

Cliff McKenzie
   Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

       GROUND ZERO, New York City, October 30 --I took a respite from Terrorism hunting last night.  My wife and I went to Carnegie Hall and listened to the Sweet Strings of Vigilance.

       There's something about violin music that soothes the Beast Within, calms its, defangs it.  In Mary Shelley's famous novel, Frankenstein, the Beast is calmed by soothing sweet notes of Vigilance, lulling the "monster" so it can be captured.

Gidon Kremer

       I felt that way last night as my wife and I sat in the nosebleed section of Carnegie Hall's beautifully designed concert hall and listened to Gidon Kremer, hailed as the world's finest living violinist, lead the Kremerata Baltica string orchestra.   My wife won the tickets in a drawing.
        The concert was titled "In Memoriam," a timely theme to pay respect for more than a hundred Russian citizens who died in the recent foiled Chechen Terrorist attack on one of Moscow's great concert halls.   The Terrorists held 750 theater-goers captive, threatening to blow them up, until the Russian government used a knock out gas to subdue them.   The gas, unfortunately, killed 117 of the hostages.

   Kremer's notes were filled with emotions, rising and falling, carrying one through the existential Angst that Karl Amadeus Hartman was noted for when he composed concerto funebre, the first of three presentations.  The other two were from Gustav Mahler and Franz Schubert.
        I found it interesting that I embraced the sounds of the violins, violas and cellos that captured something within me and swept me into the many facets of sounds ebbing and flooding from the main stage.   We had center seats that looked down at the performers.  I felt like an eagle flying above the thirteen men and thirteen women who comprise the Kremerata Baltica.   
        I also had mixed thoughts.  As I listened to the music, my mind flashed to the Russian Cultural Center and the hundreds of people who came that evening to enjoy a new musical.   I felt creepy thinking that at any minute a group of Terrorists might storm the stage and take over Carnegie Hall.    Prior to September 11, I might never have let such a thought pluck at my mind.   But as we climbed up and up to our "near-the-ceiling" seats, I became aware how hard it would be to exit the hall if some tragedy happened--a fire, for example, or a sudden take-over by bomb wielding Terrorists.  These days, anything is possible.
       But as the music danced from the fingers and hands of the ensemble, and the strings of their fine instruments sang their emotional cries of joy and mourning, I was mesmerized.  The Fear, Intimidation and Complacency of Terroristic thoughts were driven, banished, cordoned by the sweet sounds of Vigilance.

Kremerata Baltica

        Kremerata Baltica is comprised of  young men and women from the Baltic States--Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia.  Their average age is 25, according to the information supplied in the Carnegie Hall Playbill we were given upon entering.  Each musician was hand selected by Kremer, who, in his mid-fifties, has elected to become a Sentinel of Musical Vigilance, collecting around him the most gifted young players and passing on his wisdoms, learning and experience to them.
       Music is history.   Karl Amadeus Hartman wrote his concerto funebre in 1939 in retaliation to the  Munich Agreement that allowed Hitler to invade Czechoslovakia and take over the Sudetenland without a struggle.  In different movements he expresses a range of emotions, from a funeral march to defiant rhythmic and dynamic forces, suggesting the "will of the people" was stronger than Hitler's domination.  In the closing chorale he uses music to quotes a Russian revolutionary workers' hymn of 1904--another underscore of defiance against the Nazi Terrorism that prevailed.
      Composers like Hartman stood up to Terrorism through music.   Every note had a meaning, a message to the audience that Courage would overpower Fear, that Conviction must stand against Intimidation, and that Complacency--inaction--must be countered with Right Action.
      By composing the piece, Hartman took the risk of being a subversive.   His overture music explicitly evokes the Czech nationalism that Hitler sought to trample, offering those who listened to it a surreptitious message of Vigilance in the face of ruling Nazi Terrorism.
      As I was listening to the music, I didn't know the history of the composition.   This morning I read it thoroughly.  It was nice to not have prior knowledge of the piece, for my emotions were unexpectedly engaged. I felt the Passion of Hartman's Vigilance without cluttering it with intellectualism.
      Gustav Mahler's Adagio from Symphony No. 10 was just as moving as the first piece.   It was written in torment.  Mahler's wife was going to leave him, and he pleaded with her not to.  He said, if she did, "I would simply have gone out like a torch deprived of air."   It too was pained with passion of loss, and hope for resurrection.
       But the real mastery of the evening was the solo playing of Gidon Kremer.   His lyrical love for the violin was incredibly majestic.   He attacked it with wild passion and celestial grace.  His fervor caused me to want  to know more about the history of the violin.

       Its roots go back to the lyre, the Greek cithara and the Persian and Arabic Kithara.   The first reference to what we consider the modern violin came in 1523 from an Italian town of Vercelli.  What caught my attention was the description of the violin as a "spiritual" instrument.  Karen Eastburn of Emory University describes it best:   "Its curves and complexities resemble the shapes of angels and saints in Baroque sculptures.  Baroque art was created by passionate, exultant artists who believed in God and the glory of the church.  The violin too was invented was invented by artists who were passionate, exultant and devoted to beliefs."

Precursors of the Violin

      When I read that, I thought about the feelings I experienced last night.   Sitting high above the stage at Carnegie Hall, I was able to feel the sense of being lifted up out of my seat, and my soul softly sailing free form the Terror of gravity.   (I'm 270 pounds, six feet four inches tall, so any gravity defying feeling is fine with me.)
        As I shut my eyes last night, I had this feeling the Sentinels of Vigilance were there, diving in and out of the empty space formed by the curvature of the hall's Parthenian-shaped dome.  There was a sense of calm in the hall as the young musicians played next to the master, a kind of reverence not only for him, but also for their music and their instruments.
       Angels of Vigilance, I thought.   The sweet sounds of the Angels of Vigilance speaking to all those Spirits of Vigilance who had passed on, calling them back, to listen, to enjoy the eternal message that Courage must never bow to Fear, that Conviction must not suffer the power of Intimidation, and that Right Action will always trumpet over Complacency when people come together as one, in an orchestra of purpose.

        I kept admiring the young people below me.   They were the Children of Vigilance, playing to the Sentinels of Vigilance.  They were letting all the souls hovering above the World Trade Center know that they were embracing anti-Terrorism weapons--violins, cellos violas--that only worked when united as one body, expressing the Passion of Vigilance in a world riddled by threats and acts of Terrorism.
      I wondered if the youthful musicians knew they were anti-Terrorist fighters.  I wondered if they realized the music they played unified all who listened with a passion for life and prosperity that dwarfed all the vile and corrupt intentions of a Terrorist.

       I hoped they did.

      For to me, they were holding under their chins and between their knees, the Shields of Vigilance, and playing to the hopes of the Vigilant future. 
      They were, indeed, the Sweet Strings of Vigilance.                    




 Oct. 29--Political Terrorism In Our Children's Living Rooms

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