The pendulum of human history has continuously swung between despair and hope, horror and bliss, chaos and tranquility. We are a restless bunch, prone to desperation, isolation and violence in some moments, and yet, mercifully, to optimism and generosity in others.
As a citizen of the world in 2016, at times I am overwhelmed by the temptation to spiral down into the turmoil and pessimism that seemingly invades all corners of our lives, pulling me into the dispiriting din of upheaval which can devastate the spirit. And yet, I’m a belligerent, proud, willing optimist. I resist.
And so I ask myself: Is it possible to find a sincere and lasting peace within such deafening chaos? And if so, how can I access it? Is there an alternative to simply surrendering to the inevitable noise and our base fears, instead choosing serenity, audaciously silencing those fears?
For centuries, creators of great art have been depicting atrocity and pandemonium alongside tranquility and harmony for centuries, boldly showing us both our brutal nature and our elevated humanity. Art unifies, transcends borders, connects the disconnected, eliminates status, soothes turmoil, threatens power and the status-quo, and gloriously exalts the spirit. Art is a valiant path to peace.
With the help of Handel and Purcell, among other masters, I respectfully invite you look at the interwoven worlds of external conflict and serenity, internal war and peace, and to contemplate where you wish to reside within yourself.
As I have tried to convey in this selection of music, the power to bravely tip the scales towards peace lies firmly within every single one of us. (Joyce DiDonato)