Classical music to 'make people better people'
The LaRouche Manhattan Project has been working
with classical musicians who have devoted themselves
to reviving classical music amongst youth; the Manhattan
Project itself runs a chorus to which they recruit people
met on the streets of New York, many with no singing
experience. Participation in creating something beautiful
and profound is a crucial factor in uplifting both the individual
and the culture as a whole, and is the only way
to replace the culture of fear and despair which leaves
the population open to manipulation and control by the
On 2 May, Director of the Foundation for the Revival
of Classical Music, Lynn Yen, told Manhattan Project representative
Dennis Speed about her New York City program:
"This year we started an outreach program of bringing
concert artists into the public schools, of bringing classical
music to a lot more young people. What we have
done thus far is to invite a number of concert artists, pianists,
cellists, violinists, vocalists, and classical musicians
of all kinds to come and visit these schools, where we organise
for whole classrooms and, actually, for the whole
school to be assembled, where the musicians present musical
performances, and talk to these young people about
what is music, what is classical music, what is classical
culture, and what is this music that they have just played
for them, followed by questions and answers. We have so
far visited, or been involved in, about 43 public schools."
Describing how her group has performed in front of
17,000 young people, Yen gave an example of the response
they typically receive: "We had one baritone, for
example, who went to a public school, a middle school,
and when we went into the school the parent coordinator
said, 'You're the classical music people! I'm so excited!
But I have to tell you, these kids only like hip-hop,
and you might have difficulties.' But when the baritone
started singing from Handel's Messiah, I believe it was the
second solo, about the coming of the Prophet, there was
such a look of concentration on all of the faces of these
fourth and fifth graders; they were completely captivated
by the music, and they were captivated for the whole presentation—the
whole piece, definitely, but the whole presentation—because
he introduced other music to them.
They asked lots of questions. At the end, one of the kids
said, 'Can you just please sing some more?'"
Yen explained why Handel's Messiah is a particularly
accessible piece of music, including the fact that it is
written in English. Handel wrote it for a benefit performance
for the poor and the sick, and for debtors, and
enshrined in it a message of hope for a brighter future.
"There is so much violence in America. There is so much
violence, for example, in the schools, in the youth population.
There is so much darkness", Yen said. "What is
so important about Handel's Messiah? To put it in context,
as Martin Luther King once said, 'As great as are the
stars in Heaven, as great as the music of Handel's Messiah,
how much greater is the mind of man that contemplates
these things?' That is the really important thing, because
I think that Handel's Messiah celebrates the really
important aspect, the divine creativity that lies in every
human being; if people can come to realise that, that is
essential for their own humanity. What does the Messiah
talk about? It talks about love, it talks about forgiveness, it
talks about peace, unity, all the things we need in America,
in the world today—the elevation of all of ourselves
to the idea of love." The purpose of classical music and of
culture, she asserted, is to "make people better people".
The Manhattan Project also worked with two Italian
opera singers on their recent visit to New York in Nov-Dec
2015: bass Alessio Magnaguagno and soprano Fausta Ciceroni.
In Rome the two have staged 35 operas in schools,
without government support, and now involve pupils in
performances, teaching them singing from scratch.
In a 7 January interview with the chairwoman of the
LaRouche movement in Italy, Liliana Gorini, the singers
described how they first "teach students to listen, because
a concert is not only performed by those who are
on stage, but also by the audience. ... We arrange for the
main characters of the planned opera to go to the participating
schools to meet the students in their own environment.
We explain to them what they will see and hear, and
the intent of the composer and librettist. We play some of
the composer's compositions ... These 'concert lessons'
provided an incredible opportunity to explain to them the
idea of the opera, enable them to understand the dimension
of listening, answer their questions, and bring them
to a higher level of participation. To have 500 young students
in a theatre, listening to an opera for three hours and
applauding thunderously at the end, is a great reward."
Magnaguagno and Ciceroni described a particularly
fulfilling experience when they built the chorus of street
urchins in a performance of Bizet's Carmen from the students
at one of the schools they worked with. Two visits a
week for three months produced a chorus "perfect in intonation
and rhythm", and transformed the behaviour and
responsibility of the young boys. On another occasion, a
child who was completely mute and never allowed anyone
to touch him, cried out and came up and hugged the
two performers after hearing them sing.
In another proof of principle of the transformative power
of classical music, the June 2016 issue of Opera News
outlined the project of Francesca Zambello, artistic and
general director of the Glimmerglass Festival in upper New
York State, to expand her opera outreach into New York's
notorious maximum security prison, Attica.
Three Glimmerglass singers performed selections from
Verdi's Macbeth, with only an electric piano and no costumes,
under tight security, before the couple of hundred
inmates permitted to attend. It was a tremendous success
from the first duet. "The spectacle of two powerful African-American
men singing thunderously in Italian was
greeted with hushed astonishment. These guys opened
their mouths, and you could literally see jaws dropping",
Zambello said. At the end of the concert, "more than half
of the audience leapt to their feet for a standing ovation—
and then immediately sat back down. They're not allowed
to stand up and move without being told to do so", she
Solomon Howard, the bass singer, told Opera News that
this was "potentially the hardest audience to please, but it
was one of the best audiences we've ever performed for."
In the discussion period with the inmates which followed
the performance, Howard told them that he had grown up
around gangs in a poor Washington, DC neighbourhood.
"I told them that I could have been running the streets and
getting into all kinds of trouble, but music is what saved me
... It was my ticket out." The inmates applauded.