'In a world that certainly seems to have gone completely insane, the
arts are becoming ever more precious. When I look around me, or when I contemplate
the daily barrage of depressing news, I cling to the notion that perhaps
music and the other arts represent a rare refuge for us all - if we can
but preserve their purity'.
That was said by Gunther Schuller in the late seventies, and in the face
of a growing crisis in the American orchestral world - a situation that
eventually dissolved. But are we not now in a truly daunting confrontation
with a global crisis engendered by the mismanagement of governments in desperate
yet confusing remedies that tend to prove themselves feeble or wrong?
Within that context, the timeless quality of the arts can have an uplifting
effect for individuals who allow this stirring and invigoration of feelings
to predominate and to dispel the darkness of depression, or even the alarm
of seeing cataclysmic events. I watched on TV the aftermath of both the
recent natural disasters in the Americas. Such desolation easily overwhelms
one with a feeling of helplessness in the face of the mammoth forces of
Nature. But that is a human reaction divorced from our own mammoth resources.
What do we do? stay frozen with fear? or take strength from the power
generated from hereditary qualities? They do not vanquish physical disturbance,
rather they reinforce our natural powers. Those of us fortunate enough to
be absorbed by music, and sensitive to its every nuance, are that much more
experienced with the treasures of the inner world that transcend the outer.
Whilst I make no foolish claim for music as a general panacea, it is
certain that it can provide a dimension of stability which is central within
and spurs a balanced perception of the physical world and our fellow beings.
Basil Ramsey, 8 February 1999