Anoushka Shankar once said of the Syrian refugee crisis that she “felt overwhelmed with a sense of powerlessness to alleviate the suffering and injustice taking place as the world looked on.”
I know the feeling. Today we are constantly confronted with opportunities to feel overwhelmed by our powerlessness. We’re all thrown backwards into an uncertain future, encouraged to literally and figuratively wall ourselves off from each other. How do we resist collapsing into passively nihilistic despair?
One answer is music. As Shankar says, music has the power “to express how even within chaos, one can find beauty when in connection with another human being.”
No matter how powerless we feel, or how chaotic our situation, music reminds us that we have the ability to be present with others in a moment, to resonate together to an intersubjective hum. We experience that beautiful connection with each other when artists, audiences and architectures combine through the alchemy of performance to reveal something irreducible, something beyond us.
Moments of genuine human connection are rare in our atomized and “optimized” society, but we do not leave these moments unchanged. They remain with us, we are empowered by them, our capacities to affect and be affected are modified, and our worlds are expanded.
We hope that your world is slightly expanded by Anoushka’s performance, and that you leave Royce Hall feeling a little more connected and, perhaps, a little more human.