Letters received, including a comment from the Editor. We think it important
to keep open the communications channels at this sad time, so if you would
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our contact form. We'll attempt to keep this page updated over the next
From: Richard Castelli, Sarah Ford, Florence Berthaud
Date: 12 September 2001
Dear friends and colleagues,
Due to the tragic events in New York yesterday, the Prime Minister
of Quebec, Bernard Landry, has announced his decision to postpone Quebec-New York 2001.
Therefore, the scheduled performances of Robert Lepage's Zulu
Time from 21st September to 9th October are now cancelled.
We will of course keep you informed of future tour dates of this
Thank you for your understanding.
From: Robert Steadman
Date: 13 September 2001
I am so relieved that Nick Kenyon has announced a change to the traditional
format of the Last Night of the Proms in the wake of the atrocities
perpetrated in the USA earlier this week. It would be unforgivable, and
wholly inappropriate, for such a jingoistic and imperialistic event to continue
unaltered in the wake of such events.
Many people find the Last Night of the Proms an overblown
and offensive evening of, for want of a better word, 'entertainment' in
the modern world, and, as a professional musician, whilst I accept there
is a place for tradition, I find this celebration of an oppressive empire
wholly at odds with the modern world.
I believe the Last Night of the Proms is an unfortunate anachronism
that hails back to a time that has long past. I hope this change will be
permanent and we might be able to establish new traditions suitable for
the 21st century. Surely the Last Night should celebrate peace, freedom
and a world of partnerships?
From: Basil Ramsey, Editor
How strange that the American tragedy has coincided with a letter from
a reader sharply critical of the 'Last Night of the Proms', and of the jingoistic
nature of this outdated annual event, especially so soon after a world catastrophe
-- and it is no use any reader coyly pointing out that the disaster happened
in New York. The world gets smaller by the day.
We know the BBC has dealt with the dilemma of the 'Last Night'. But on
matters linking music and real life tragedy there has always been a force
within music capable of releasing a dramatic tension commensurate with experience
of the event itself. With instant communication tragedy comes to our notice
with more persistence than anything else. But -- thank goodness -- on the
scale of the American loss of life, it is not common.
One feels that sooner or later some artistic venture will attempt to
encapsulate the awful circumstances and outcome of this happening in words
and music that themselves justify the means. Human tragedy has always been
a dramatic challenge, and in itself can draw a powerful response from those
whose artistic instincts are capable and visionary.
The emotional link between music and tragedy has created countless examples
of the depth and power that can transcend the savagery of blind force, even
when initiated by Man. Perhaps this will remind us all of the duty we owe
to each other of respect, comradeship and assistance when in need. We have
the same physical attributes, but mental capacity demonstrating a readiness
to help and care to an extreme is not yet universal amongst us.
Copyright © 14 September 2001 Basil Ramsey, Eastwood,
BBC STATEMENT ABOUT THE LAST NIGHT OF THE PROMS
From: Gordon Rumson
Date: 14 September 2001
In sadness I provide the following link:
This brief composition is motivated by the horrendous events. The
text at the link will explain more...
From: Nigel Edmund-Jones
Date: 14 September 2001
How exquisite the Service of Remembrance at St Paul's Cathedral was.
Poignant music, beautifully performed by a supremely professional choir
in a building that always enhances the gravitas of such occasions. What
a fitting tribute in such sad times. Music, as always, conveys emotions
in its own unique way...
From: Donald Clarke
Date: 14 September 2001
I was born and raised in Wisconsin, lived in Britain for 25 years,
now live in Austin Texas. The BBC may wish to alter the usual format of
the Last Night of the Proms in the light of this week's events, but
they would be fools to change it permanently because some people think it
is 'jingoistic'. It always brought a lump to my throat and I always wished
we smart-ass Americans were capable of showing such innocent unforced old-fashioned
affection for our country.
From: J Pierce
Date: 14 September 2001
May we all rise like the phoenix from the ruins with a melodious
God Bless America.
From: David Stybr
Date: 14 September 2001
Thank you for this forum. This is definitely a situation in which
music can express what is beyond mere words.
In Memoriam: to the thousands lost
Note from the Composer:
Completed in August 2001 (shortly after my Brass Quintet in C Minor),
my Cortège in A Minor for Brass Quintet has no specific program.
It symbolizes only a general triumph of good against adversity, and the
spirit of the mythical Phoenix, which rises from the ashes in renewal. Moved
by the vigils after the World Trade Center tragedy in September, I wished
to create a small work of music In Memoriam to the thousands lost, and realized
that I had already done so. May their brethren rise from the ashes, in continued
renewal and strength.
David Stybr, Chicago, Illinois, USA
David Stybr: Cortège in A Minor for Brass Quintet (6:00)
From: Adrian Williams
Date: 15 September 2001
I'm sorry to choose this moment to argue, but I object to one of
the letters from your readers. I think it's unfortunate that Richard Steadman
chooses to use the current disaster in the USA to knock the usual Proms
last-night format. After all, Americans are finding a little bit of 'jingoism'
and, dare I say so, 'imperialism' quite useful right now. I don't blame
them, frankly. And neither do I blame those who go and queue for a week
and sing 'Land of hope and glory' with all their lungs. There's precious
little other opportunity to do so these days. Lots of great things are anachronisms
in this world, and whilst I agree with the change in Proms programming in
view of the situation this year, there's no need to end such traditions
just for the sake of it. There are many opportunities to celebrate internationalism
and peace between nations these days; we have European integration shoved
down our throats by desperate politicians all the time. Mr Steadman should
get off his bolshy old high horse and let the people sing and wave flags
for a few more years yet.
From: Keith Bramich
Date: 16 September 2001
Gordon Rumson states on his page that he (quite understandably) doesn't
feel like singing at the moment. Me neither, although two nights ago, I
felt like screaming:
New York Threnody (3'02")
or MP3 (3Mb download)
A strange few days, these -- for everyone, I think ... The next morning
I woke early, with a dry throat, and experienced the most beautiful dawn.
I wonder if we'll all still be here this time next week, next month,
next year? I feel a great sadness, and not much optimism at the moment ...
From: Tamim Ansary
Date: 16 September 2001
Yesterday I heard a lot of talk about 'bombing Afghanistan back to
the Stone Age'. Ronn Owens, on KGO Talk Radio allowed that this would mean
killing innocent people, people who had nothing to do with this
atrocity, but 'we're at war, we have to accept collateral damage', and he
asked, "What else can we do? What is your suggestion?" Minutes
later I heard a TV pundit discussing whether we 'have the belly to do what
must be done'.
And I thought about these issues especially hard because I am from
Afghanistan, and even though I've lived here for 35 years I've never lost
track of what's been going on over there. So I want to share a few
thoughts with anyone who will listen.
I speak as one who hates the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden. There is
no doubt in my mind that these people were responsible for the atrocity
in New York. I fervently wish to see those monsters punished.
But the Taliban and Bin Laden are not Afghanistan. They're not even
the government of Afghanistan. The Taliban are a cult of ignorant psychotics
who captured Afghanistan in 1997 and have been holding the country in bondage
ever since. Bin Laden is a political criminal with a master plan. When you
think Taliban, think Nazis. When you think Bin Laden, think Hitler. And
when you think 'the people of Afghanistan' think
"the Jews in the concentration camps." It's not only that the
Afghan people had nothing to do with this atrocity. They were the first
victims of the perpetrators. They would love for someone to eliminate the
Taliban and clear out the rats nest of international thugs holed up in their
country. I guarantee it.
Some say, if that's the case, why don't the Afghans rise up and overthrow
the Taliban themselves? The answer is, they're starved, exhausted, damaged,
and incapacitated. A few years ago, the United Nations estimated that there
are 500,000 disabled orphans in
Afghanistan--a country with no economy, no food. Millions of Afghans are
widows of the approximately two million men killed during the war with the
Soviets. And the Taliban has been executing these women for being
women and have buried some of their opponents alive in mass graves. The
soil of Afghanistan is littered with land mines and almost all the farms
have been destroyed. The Afghan people have tried to overthrow the Taliban.
They haven't been able to.
We come now to the question of bombing Afghanistan back to the Stone
Age. Trouble with that scheme is, it's already been done. The Soviets took
care of it. Make the Afghans suffer? They're already suffering. Level their
houses? Done. Turn their schools into piles of rubble? Done.
Eradicate their hospitals? Done. Destroy their infrastructure? There
is no infrastructure. Cut them off from medicine and health care? Too late.
Someone already did all that.
New bombs would only land in the rubble of earlier bombs. Would they
at least get the Taliban? Not likely. In today's Afghanistan, only the Taliban
eat, only they have the means to move around. They'd slip away and hide.
(They have already, I hear.) Maybe the bombs would get some of those disabled
orphans, they don't move too fast, they don't even have wheelchairs. But
flying over Kabul and dropping bombs wouldn't really be
a strike against the criminals who did this horrific thing. Actually it
would be making common cause with the Taliban -- by raping once again the
people they've been raping all this time.
So what else can be done, then? Let me now speak with true fear and
trembling. The only way to get Bin Laden is to go in there with ground troops.
I think that when people speak of 'having the belly to do what needs to
be done' many of them are thinking in terms of having the belly to kill
as many as needed. They are thinking about overcoming moral qualms about
killing innocent people. But it's the belly to die not kill that's actually
on the table. Americans will die in a land war to get Bin Laden. And not
just because some Americans would die fighting their way through Afghanistan
to Bin Laden's hideout. It's much bigger than that, folks. To get any troops
to Afghanistan, we'd have to go through
Pakistan. Would they let us? Not likely. The conquest of Pakistan would
have to be first. Will other Muslim nations just stand by? You see where
I'm going. The invasion approach is a flirtation with global war
between Islam and the West.
And that is Bin Laden's program. That's exactly what he wants and
why he did this thing. Read his speeches and statements. It's all right
At the moment, of course, 'Islam' as such does not exist. There are
Muslims and there are Muslim countries, but no such political entity as
Islam. Bin Laden believes that if he can get a war started, he can
constitute this entity and he'd be running it. He really believes Islam
would beat the west. It might seem ridiculous, but he figures if he can
polarize the world into Islam and the West, he's got a billion
soldiers. If the West wreaks a holocaust in Muslim lands, that's a billion
people with nothing left to lose, even better from Bin Laden's point of
He's probably wrong about winning, in the end the west would probably
overcome -- whatever that would mean in such a war; but the war would last
for years and millions would die, not just theirs but ours. Who has the
belly for that? Bin Laden yes, but anyone else?
I don't have a solution. But I do believe that suffering and poverty
are the soil in which terrorism grows. Bin Laden and his cohorts want to
bait us into creating more such soil, so they and their kind can flourish.
We can't let him do that. That's my humble opinion.
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