(Warning: this post will examine the dark side of humanity)
I apologize for the somewhat awkward and late timing of this post. I wasn’t quite sure when to start after I got back from tour, so I just let the days slip by. I’m very excited for you and the family to visit next week so you can explore my second home. Therefore, I thought I would share with you something a little bit more abstract, since we’ll have plenty of time to dismiss the concrete when you’re in Boston.
There’s been a recurring question in my life recently, which revolves around the authority we have to speak on certain topics. For example, the Holden Choruses are performing a work concerting the hate crime committed against Matthew Shepard in Wyoming in 1998. This event was notable for its public visibility and the change it produced in hate crime legislation, but it also represents an intensely poignant event in many people’s individual lives. So the question is, does Craig Hella Johnson, the composer and conductor of this piece titled Considering Matthew Shepard, have the authority to present his subjective experience of this public event in the form of the “fusion-oratorio” he’s created? And on a more personal level, do I as a straight, model minority, religious man have the right to participate in this production?
In English class, we just finished reading, Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner, where the question arises of who has the authority to tell the story of the past. In the book, multiple characters present different versions of the same story, that of a family in the South that falls apart due to internal conflict and the vicissitudes of the Civil War. However, it is difficult to claim that any of these versions present a reliable or factual account.
I’ve gotten the sense that it’s impossible for me to speak on any topic which I haven’t experienced directly, at least in real life, which has been a humbling experience. I don’t wholly agree with this sentiment, as I have a responsibility to have opinions on important subjects. As far as art goes however, I think the culture leaves room for speaking to topics which are foreign to the artist, as long as they are willing to accept the responsibility of treating the subject with respect. It’s my hope that the concert in which I’m singing this weekend lives up to that standard.
Have fun looking at those colleges!