Monday, June 22, 2009


I just got back from (Le) Poisson Rouge, where I witnessed a breathtaking performance of Steve Reich's Pulitzer Prize-winning piece "Double Sextet" by the hip contemporary classical group Signal. Mesmerizing percussive instruments and herky-jerky piano merged with the dissonant, razor sharp phrasing of violins and woodwinds. The ensemble (heads bobbing and bodies moving, the falcon-like conductor Brad Lubman swishing and cutting with his arms) was propulsive yet subdued, piercing but sublime.

After the show, Reich himself appeared in his trademark baseball cap, making his way through the applauding crowd and going on stage to give hugs and kisses. Considering the mood of the scene, I couldn't help but feel a little regretful that I didn't pull out my phone to snap a picture, even though it would have turned out hopelessly blurry and underexposed. Oh, to simply have the Capped One in a frame!

Now, I'm thinking of this haunting indelible image: life streaming from the eyes of the young Iranian woman Neda Agha-Soltan. Whether or not all of the facts have been independently confirmed, the candid video of Neda's death is fast becoming the definitive emblem of Iranians' call for democratic change. As I follow the hopeful protests and tragic violence taking place in Iran, the image has begun to serve as something of a personal spirit: a reminder that pops up up in unexpected places of the incomprehensibly ugly forces that seek to destroy beautiful common struggles.

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