Freedom & Music

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In the shadow of July 4th celebrations across the U.S., we’re inspired to briefly reflect on some of the ways freedom and music are intertwined across our nation – and the world.Liberty + Fireworks

Invigorates Patriotism. This year America marked the 238th anniversary of independence from Great Britain. Once again, community celebrations included parades with marching bands, ceremonies and fireworks. Familiar, stirring music included Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever” and Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture.”

The same patriotic fervor culminating at this traditional summer midpoint also punctuates sporting events when “The Star Spangled Banner” is performed – whether at the Super Bowl or the local high school field. Olympic medal ceremonies memorably demonstrate how athletes across the globe are stirred by their own countries’ anthems.

Inspires Remembrance. In late June, the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra performed Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, at a ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of assassinations that led to World War I. The concert program claimed the tune as the anthem of the 28-nation European Union.

Numerous other ceremonies and concerts are being planned across the globe during 2014, to mark the centennial of the Great War’s beginning. It was not the hoped-for “War to End All Wars”: the terrible refrain of bloodshed would return just a few decades later.

Promotes Education. During World War II, Esther Bejarano played accordion in the Girls’ Orchestra at the Auschwitz concentration camp; a recent story in the New York Times described her childhood, imprisonment and survival. For the past five years, she’s performed with German rappers who are much younger, sharing her story musically in multiple languages. She believes some of society’s problems today, like racism, prove that the Holocaust’s lessons still need to be taught. Music is her teaching method.

According to the article, Ms. Bejarano’s colleague, rapper Kutlu Yurtseven, is inspired by every concert with her. “Sometimes I’m kind of tired,” he said. “Then I look at Esther and think, ‘O.K., don’t tell yourself you’re tired. She’s 89 and still fighting for a better world.’”

Stimulates Reflection. Whether you’re a professional musician, hobbyist or just play your iPod, music and freedom can both be too easily taken for granted. What songs are on your patriotic playlist this time of year – and year-round?

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