Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Vive la vie!

by Emmanuel Legrand

[This editorial was originally published in the Nov. 23, 2015 issue of Music Week.]

There are words that you wish you'd never have to write. Because the subjectmatter is too painful and because of what it says about this world we are living in.

The terrorist attacks in Paris last week have affected each and every one of us, but to those of us for whom music is a raison d'etre, what happened at the Bataclan is the darkest of nightmares.

The idea that a concert hall, a place celebrating life and art, could turn into a slaughterhouse at the hands of a trio of disciplined and well trained terrorists, is simply unfathomable. Music is about reaching out, sharing, emotions, transcending all differences. It is what brings people together, not what tears them apart.

Newspapers have published walls of pictures of those who died in Paris. These people we mourn are our friends, our companions, our wives, our kids, even if we have never met them. Reflected in their faces, we can see our own; we can measure how lucky we are to continue to enjoy life; and we can make sure, for their sakes as well as our own, that the music never dies.

Because life will continue. Of course it will. We simply cannot let the barbarians win. We cannot allow a handful of killers -- who cut short their lifetime on earth for the promise of a better afterlife, while inflicting maximum pain before departing for their kingdom of doom -- decide how we want to live our lives. In his HBO show, recorded in the aftermath of the events, the great John Oliver summed it up pretty well: If you want to declare war to France's way of life, bring it on and you ain't gonna win!

Music is embodies tolerance, cultural diversity, creativity -- all these values that those who worship death and detest freedom cannot accept.

So we will continue to go to concerts, we will meet friends in caf├ęs, we will go to football games. We will be slightly different people than before the attacks. We may never go to a concert with quite the same light-heartedness again. But we will treasure the gift of music and the pleasure of just being there, not least in memory of all who have perished because they loved music.