The soloist, Gabriela Montero, explains:There are many ways to break the silence that has enveloped the Venezuelan tragedy for so many years. What happened at the Komische Oper on Friday, just as Mirga, the orchestra and I were about to begin Tchaikovsky’s Concerto No.1, was as shocking and desperate, as it was deeply moving.To our surprise, a Venezuelan man and woman sitting in the front row, far left, rose to their feet and began to sing the Venezuelan National Anthem. Everyone was taken aback. I turned my body towards them, to listen, observe and admire the courage it took for these two people to break the silence, the sacred aura of this temple of classical music.
I want to explain to you what just happened. This couple, whom I have never met, courageously sang our National Anthem, to remind the world that beyond these walls, of this safe concert hall, there are a great many people who are suffering. Our country, Venezuela, is suffering and living its most horrific historyIgor Levit, another great pianist, was in the audience and he commented:
There are now people who believe that political speeches do not belong in a concert. Many artists also think that. It is not a question of speeches. It’s about awareness, about consciousness. Conscious of the fact that no artist, no person, should be hiding out in front of the world. So that every person, regardless of job and task, positioning, fighting, helping – must be human. Gabriela Montero is such a person. She gave all of us not only a wonderful Tchaikovsky concerto yesterday, no, she gave her music a moment that brought us closer to ourselves. I’m still overwhelmed and touched. And grateful.I don't think we need to question the sincerity of these people, the pianists or the couple who sang the anthem. One audience member shouted out that this was not the place for these political things and for the most part I would agree with him as well.
It is complex!
There are patently contrived political protests--in fact, they often seem to be dominant these days--but there are also ones that simply come from human empathy. Honestly, who wouldn't feel empathy for the people of Venezuela, sitting on one of the largest reservoirs of oil in the world, but starving to death and dying for want of basic medicines while the political elite amass billions through corruption and oppression. Oh, and the inflation rate of the currency is around 700% so I'm sure they are tucking away US dollars and not Venezuelan bolívars.
Other political protests I have less sympathy with because they are based, not on actual facts of human suffering, but on ideologically biased contrivances.
That there should be no politics whatsoever in classical music is an extreme ideological position. That everything is political is also an extreme ideological position.
For our envoi, here is Gabriela Montero playing a Schubert Impromptu: