Look for the helpers

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember by mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers–so many caring people in this world.”

-Fred Rogers

The most difficult concert I have ever conducted occurred on the evening of the tragedy at Sandy Hook. It included as its centerpieces both Jaakko Mäntyjärvi’s Canticum Calamitatis Maritimae and the brilliant The Stolen Child by Scott Perkins, who was visiting Hofstra to work with the Chamber Choir and attend the performance. The text and subject matter of both pieces raised significant questions in both Scott’s and my mind as to whether we should actually go ahead with the performance as planned. Ultimately, we decided that our only possible response as artists was to embrace the texts and themes of the concert fully, and–in so doing–to provide whatever space for reflection we could for our audience that night. It was, in the end, the best way we knew how to help.

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