remarks before the third concert in the series “I Hear America — Gunther Schuller at 80,” a project of New England Conservatory, Harvard University, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra
“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall, / That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,”
Of course, later in Robert Frost’s poem, we read some words that are seen to be ironic: “Good fences make good neighbors,” says the farmer. Gunther Schuller certainly seems to disagree. He’s been the “ground-swell.” He’s toppled walls …
I’m Bruce Brubaker — and I’m happy to welcome you here. I’d like to talk for a minute about the logistics of this festival. We might have had an evening of jazz and an evening of chamber music … we might have had separate days …
But would these separations have represented Gunther Schuller? Would neat dividing have represented the musical America he witnessed and that he inhabits?
Instead things have come together within the school and outside. This afternoon we had an event at Harvard. Yesterday James Levine was here, and this weekend he will conduct Mr. Schuller’s Spectra down the street [at the Boston Symphony].
Many thanks to all the people on the stages, and all of the many people behind the scenes who have been part of solving this puzzle.
You may have seen the red, white and blue posters or, last night, heard the ensemble play “The Stars and Stripes Forever” and you might have thought: ”This festival is patriotic!” That Gunther Schuller is a patriot!”
Patriotism — perhaps. But not jingoism. Certainly not blind acceptance of authority, or kowtowing to received wisdom.
Schuller’s “Patriot Acts” have been rather different. He’s asked questions. As we do here. QUESTIONS. And let’s go on with that. Mr. Schuller has let the multiple, sometimes conflicting and glorious voices of this place, this America, be heard in this remarkable time.
And I’ve hoped that we could hear too. Before you can hear you have to listen, and at least we are trying. So perhaps not “I Hear America” … but “I Listen to America”!
For the opportunity to try to do that, for the opportunity to try listening I thank all of you, and then we can all thank Gunther Schuller.