Friday, April 18, 2008

Maybe it's True . . .

seems beauty really can save the world, or at least a part of it.

60 Minutes reported on a man in Venezuela who has been teaching poor and at-risk city youth, boys and girls, how to read music, play instruments and perform in a symphony. And not just any music, they are learning classical composers like Beethoven and Bach. The program is called El Sistema, started in 1975 by José Antonio Abreu, and now consisting of 300,000 children, the best of whom perform internationally under the direction of conductor Gustavo Dudamel, himself a former student of Senor Abreu and El Sistema.

The phrase, "Beauty will save the world," taken from a Dostoevsky novel, has been quoted and interpreted by hundreds of writers including Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who said this,
. . . there is a special quality in the essence of beauty, a special quality in the status of art: the conviction carried by a genuine work of art is absolutely indisputable and tames even the strongly opposed heart. One can construct a political speech, an assertive journalistic polemic, a program for organizing society, a philosophical system, so that in appearance it is smooth, well structured, and yet it is built upon a mistake, a lie . . . and one has faith in them—yet one has no faith.
These at-risk youth were never persuaded as to what constitutes a good life, they fell in love with something good, which is what beauty is, and now it seems a couple hundred thousand kids are doing something well and loving it. And in a way experiencing a good, or at least a better, way of life.

The report is worth seeing, especially the little 14 year old girl who plays the trumpet, or the blind boy that plays the violin at the end. If that doesn't get you, you're not breathing. It's all pretty good stuff.

The 60 Minutes report:

Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.
John Keats / Ode to a Grecian Urn

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