Pablo Casals (1876-1973) was a world-famous cellist, composer, conductor, and human rights activist. He organized many concerts to benefit the oppressed, and he refused to perform in countries whose governments mistreated their people, such as the Soviet Union, Germany under Hitler, Italy under Mussolini, and his home country, Spain under Franco. At every concert he gave, Casals played “Song of the Birds,” a Catalonian folk song, to protest the continued dictatorship in Spain.
For Casals, there was no disparity between his roles as a musician and an activist, because they came from the same place within him. “I am every day more convinced that the mainspring of any human enterprise must be moral strength and generosity,” he said. He knew that music was not mere entertainment; in the face of war and cruelty, music was his way of making the world a better place.
Even if we’re not famous artists, every one of us can find a way to make a difference in the world around us. Here’s how Casals put it: “Each second we live is a new and unique moment of the universe, a moment that will never be again…. And what do we teach our children? We teach them that two and two make four, and that Paris is the capital of France. When will we also teach them what they are? We should say to each of them: Do you know what you are? You are a marvel. You are unique. In all the years that have passed, there has never been another child like you. Your legs, your arms, your clever fingers, the way you move. You may become a Shakespeare, a Michelangelo, a Beethoven. You have the capacity for anything. Yes, you are a marvel. And when you grow up, can you then harm another who is, like you, a marvel? You must work, we must all work to make the world worthy of its children.”
The Monmouth Civic Chorus will perform music by Casals and other composers in a concert entitled “Passions” on Sunday, March 6, 2016 at 4:00 p.m. at Our Lady Star of the Sea Church, 101 Chelsea Avenue, Long Branch. Tickets are $30 adult, $27 senior, $25 group, $5 student. Tickets and information are available at monmouthcivicchorus.org or (732) 933-9333. Tickets will be available at the door.