Glimmers of hope

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This page is also available in / Cette page est également disponible en: Francais (French)

Fearing for the worst during the current crisis, our species yearns to see the light at the end of the tunnel. With the lockdowns now easing, there is reason to hope, but the threat of an impending second wave, as experts warn, still looms large. No less preoccupied by this state of affairs, the arts community has been hit hard. Reeled at first, it was thankfully kept afloat through emergency government support programs.

While it was easy to fall prey to the doom and gloom, some artists countered this. The internet, for one, enabled the most resourceful ones to stage live home broadcasts, some accessible for a token fee. Should we then expect a trend towards more solo and duo recordings in the months to come? Time will tell.

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In weeks past, musicians have also shared their thoughts online, mainly about their own situation. Few have looked beyond their immediate concerns and addressed broader issues. Danish pianist Niels Lan Doky is one of the exceptions. On April 26, he provided a basically optimistic op-ed on the global challenge (see reference below). Instead of feeling downtrodden, he sees an opportunity to push the button on restart, so to speak. For starters, he draws the line between two perspectives:

“On [the]one hand, we have those whose daily lives have turned into a blissful moment of peace and quiet, with the built-in opportunity and incentive to reflect on the world and become inspired to aspire towards positive transformational paradigm shifts in the
immediate future.

“At the opposite end of the spectrum, we have those who desperately long for a return to “normal,” i.e. to their status-quo, business-as-usual pre-corona lives.”

Doky is of the first persuasion, but readily admits his inability to grasp the other in spite of trying. He then wonders if these views are related in some way to education. He argues that those countries that value education as a right have fared better in the pandemic than those where it is seen as a privilege, and he gives two examples of the latter: the United States and Brazil. In comparison, his country, Denmark, spends 8% of its GDP on education, putting it in the top ten worldwide. In contrast, the U.S. ranks 65th on that list, devoting around 5 % of its GDP. Ironically, though, the world leader there is Cuba at 12.9%!

That said, Doky firmly believes that democracy is meaningless without education. In summing up, he makes one final observation, and a valid one, that “our entire economy has been built primarily (i.e., not exclusively, but predominantly and to a very large extent) on the buying and selling of goods and services that we don’t really need.” To him then, “[i]t’s time to press ‘delete’ and ‘empty trash,’ and build a new system from scratch.” Idealistic for sure, but where would we be without ideals?

Online: The Coronavirus is a Blessing in Disguise (Apr. 26, 2020)

This page is also available in / Cette page est également disponible en: Francais (French)


About Author

Marc Chénard is a Montreal-based multilingual music journalist specialized in jazz and improvised music. In a career now spanning some 30 years, he has published a wide array of articles and essays, mainly in Canada, some in the United States and several in Europe (France, Belgium, Germany and Austria). He has travelled extensively to cover major festivals in cities as varied as Vancouver and Chicago, Paris and Berlin, Vienna and Copenhagen. He has been the jazz editor and a special features writer for La Scena Musicale since 2002; currently, he also contributes to Point of Departure, an American online journal devoted to creative musics. / / Marc Chénard est un journaliste multilingue de métier de Montréal spécialisé en jazz et en musiques improvisées. En plus de 30 ans de carrière, ses reportages, critiques et essais ont été publiés principalement au Canada, parfois aux États-Unis mais également dans plusieurs pays européens (France, Belgique, Allemagne, Autriche). De plus, il a été invité à couvrir plusieurs festivals étrangers de renom, tant en Amérique (Vancouver, Chicago) que Outre-Atlantique (Paris, Berlin, Vienne et Copenhangue). Depuis 2012, il agit comme rédacteur atitré de la section jazz de La Scena Musicale; en 2013, il entame une collabortion auprès de la publication américaine Point of Departure, celle-ci dédiée aux musiques créatives de notre temps.

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