We had to say “arrivederci” to Rome on Friday morning and to all my new friends which I met on this trip. The security lines at the airport were horrendous — I must have spent two hours standing in a very disorganized line to get through border patrol, and people were pushing, angry and upset. For one thing, the cables to separate the lines were too far apart, so that we were about six people wide at the beginning; then two hours later when we got up to the front, since there were only four agents, it meant that the lines had to merge. People were not happy!
I had to fly back the way I came, meaning I was routed through Montreal, then Newark. But because flights to Hawaii only leave Newark in the morning, it meant I had to stay overnight in a hotel in Elizabeth, NJ before flying on to San Francisco and finally Honolulu. By some great fortune my room was upgraded to a suite, and it was a luxurious 14 hours I spent there before having to go back to the airport. Sadly I learned about the Paris terror attacks when I turned on the TV and I began to feel guilty about having such a wonderful time in Rome with my new friends. There was talk of going on another international trip together next year and I was invited to tag along!
On Facebook some people quoted Leonard Bernstein following the death of President John Kennedy on November 22, 1963: We musicians, like everyone else, are numb with sorrow at this murder, and with rage at the senselessness of the crime. But this sorrow and rage will not inflame us to seek retribution; rather they will inflame our art. Our music will never again be quite the same. This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before. And with each note we will honor the spirit of John Kennedy, commemorate his courage, and reaffirm his faith in the Triumph of the Mind.
I commend you to Christopher Buchenholz’ article, An Artist’s Response to Violence, in which he writes: “On Sunday, November 24, two days after the assassination, Leonard Bernstein conducted the New York Philharmonic and the Schola Cantorum of New York in a nationally televised JFK memorial featuring Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony—not the Brahms Requiem… Indeed, Mahler’s music had never been performed for such an event. The more common practice would have been to perform a requiem, or, as George Szell did for the remaining Philharmonic concerts that weekend — replace the overture with the funeral march from Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3, Eroica and ask that the audience members not applaud after the movement’s final bars.
“John F. Kennedy was a true champion of the arts. In the wake of his murder, many artists and musicians, poets and thinkers have searched for meaning in the shadow of tragedy. For many, Bernstein’s “reply to violence” has been a beacon of hope for those in distress. After the attacks on The World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, in the wake of the Newtown massacre and the Boston Marathon bombings, people have turned to Bernstein’s words as a source of comfort and strength in the face of unimaginable pain and loss. For Bernstein, as for Kennedy, “Learning and Reason” were the appropriate responses, the appropriate antidote to ignorance and hatred, and are the true instruments of peace.”