An Evening of Music &Discourse for Peace and Democracy

   "I have nothing to say
    and I am saying it
    and that is poetry
    as I needed it"
John Cage  1949

John Cage’s unique voice continues to inspire and resonate with us.  At this moment, however, a far-reaching threat to humanity, law and democracy impels us to search for a different brand of poetry.  Our poetry today has a tone of urgency:  “We have much to say.  We must say it and we need to be heard.” 

Breaking the Silence:
An evening of music & discourse for peace and democracy will be held at Peter Norton Symphony Space, located on Broadway and West 95th Street, New York City, 12 May 2003, 7:00 P.M. 

Stirred by the unjust war on Iraq, a group of notable musicians and guest speakers will assemble to voice their dissent and express their concern over the unilateral and immoral actions and policies of the current administration.  This is intended as an affirmation of humanity, an exercise in democracy and an expression of compassion for those afflicted by the horrors of an unjust war regardless of nationality and faith.

This project was instigated by New York-based musician, Haleh Abghari.  She has created and produced this event with a team of dedicated volunteers made up of like-minded friends and artists with a desire to bring the isolated voices of individual musicians together in a public forum. 
The Nation Institute is co-sponsoring this event.  Ms. Abghari is a native of Iran who lived through the Iran-Iraq war.  She states, “The administration’s absolute and clandestine style of governance is chillingly reminiscent of the one adopted by the fundamentalist and corrupt government of Iran.  That is what drove me out of Iran.”

We have witnessed the widespread clamor of numerous artists in response to the war on Iraq.  Until now, there has been no formalized act of protest from the circles of classical musicians.  Through
Breaking the Silence, these artists can contribute to the international dialogue and engage in what promises to be a thought-inducing evening of music and words.  Community-building is at the core of this project.  The musicians are moving beyond their usual roles as culture-makers and standing up as a group of concerned citizens who sharply criticize the devastation brought upon humanity by our current administration.

Fred Sherry, who will co-host the event with Peter Schickele, explains, “Every time I walk out on stage, I want to say, ‘Stop the war!’  Music is an uplifting and animating force.  This event allows musicians to step on stage and express their views through their music.”  He continues, “I feel great distress that our world societies’ presently deputized leaders have failed and brought us death and destruction.”  Peter Schickele adds, "America seems to be entering a new era of colonialism achieved by military means.  This trend should be resisted because political empires are morally corrupt and impossible to maintain."

The Bush administration is unapologetic after missteps that have claimed human lives and pulverized cities and villages.  How can we remain silent when self-interest is guiding our government's policies and the corporate-controlled media is manipulating public opinion?  George Bush boasts high hopes of enforcing democracy in a country which, so far, has only seen death and destruction from his liberation package.  Meanwhile, our own democracy and hard-earned civil rights are threatened and our economy is drained by corporate plutocracy.  This is a war we cannot afford morally or economically.

Arts and culture are reminders of the finest achievements of our civilization.  The message of this event will be accompanied by musical selections representative of those achievements.  Many fine artists will participate in this effort (donating their talent at no cost) to assert their disapproval of a series of unconscionable acts by our government resulting in:  an abuse of power, supplanting international alliances by cultures of anti-Americanism, desecration of our civil rights, promulgation of propaganda and fear throughout the population, neglecting rebuilding efforts in Afghanistan . . .  The list could go on.

The current state of affairs propelled the organizers to add another dimension to this effort.  All participants in the event have donated their services, or provided them at reduced fees.  After meeting production costs, proceeds from ticket sales and donations will be forwarded to
Doctors Without Borders’ relief program in Iraq.  DWB is an independent, neutral humanitarian organization.  Donations are accepted by mail.  Additionally, a collection will be taken at the event to invite audience members to participate in contributing to this effort.

At a time when the political agenda of our government places self-interest and domination before human rights, the participants of
Breaking the Silence wish to stand up as concerned citizens to question and challenge — this being a true Patriot Act.  We are delighted to give the New York audience an opportunity to join us to create this event.  There will be a small reception following the event to encourage further conversation.

Artist Committee

Laurie Anderson
Philip Glass
Paul Hillier
Aaron J. Kernis
Bernard Rands

Orchestra Coordinators

Joanna Jenner
Jon Deak
Advisory Committee

Miriam Charney
Merry Conway
Roberta Cooper
Thomas Grubb
Bruce Hodges
Joanna Jenner
Katt Lissard
Noni Pratt
Mitzi Pratt
Fred Sherry
Click here to read the original statement of purpose.
             Breaking the Silence        Audience Responses
© Haleh Abghari