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Music to Pause and Process

I’ve never considered classical music to be a harmless diversion, detached from the real world. On the contrary: I’ve always loved this music precisely for its ability to speak to the human condition and give meaningful emotional expression to even our darkest hours.

This is all to say that this Friday’s Classical Tulsa could have been just another hour of nice music. But after recent events, I thought I needed to do better.

I needed to exemplify the incredible diversity of an art form that truly belongs to everyone. The music of Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, for example, blends the sounds of spirituals and blues with the counterpoint of Johann Sebastian Bach in an entirely original way. If you don’t know Perkinson’s music – as I didn’t, until recently – then you should hear his Black/Folk Song Suite for solo cello.

I needed to give expression to the sorrow and frustration that so many of us are feeling in the face of an unjust killing. When I think of the music that speaks for the victims of oppression, the first name that comes to mind is Dmitri Shostakovich. His Eighth String Quartet is a powerful musical catharsis for bleak times.

Finally, I needed to offer hope for a better future – if we can work together to achieve it. Frederic Rzewski’s virtuosic variations on the protest anthem The People United Will Never Be Defeated embody that qualified optimism. I won’t get to play as much of the piece as I’d like – it’s more than an hour long – but the message is clear in the recent recording by pianist Igor Levit.

Please join me for an hour of music of identity, loss, and hope, Friday, June 5, 2020 at noon on Classical 88.7 KWTU HD-1.  LISTEN LIVE

Musicologist and Classical Tulsa host Jason Heilman is no stranger to Tulsa’s concert audiences, having been a frequent speaker at concerts by Tulsa Camerata, Chamber Music Tulsa, and other local groups.