There is no such thing as political music. It is an illusion to think that notes – sounds – can teach you how to behave, be a good citizen or contribute to society. Music is an experience, a celebration of our existence, not a language which can convey meaning. Beauty can be experienced by everyone regardless of political affiliation, religious tenets, morals or habits, but does not have the power to change these. Nonetheless, it is a form of community. We share our musical experiences: our souls lifted by the sounds of Beethoven’s A minor quartet; the exhilaration, blood-pounding in our ears, of Messiaen’s Turangalîla; glittering meditations on the moment in the music of Salvatore Sciarrino. While taking care never to use music as a pulpit from which to preach, it is an opportunity to provoke thought and contemplation.
After the invasion of the Gaza Strip by the Israeli Defence Forces on 27 December 2008 and the ensuing conflict, I felt the need to give voice to a desperation I felt at the seemingly never-ending legacy of violent idiocy in the region, a legacy in which we are all implicated. I do not wish to present any particular opinion, each must think for themselves. This is written in solidarity with all those citizens of Palestine and Israel whose hearts are filled with love and peace – 11 million songs of hope.
Gaza Cantos was written for Robert Guy and was premiered at a lunchtime concert on 9 May as part of Wrexham Arts Festival 2009.