Beethoven for Boston: Transcript from the opening speech.

Good evening. Welcome and thank you all for being here. When President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, Leonard Bernstein wrote “This will be our reply to violence: to make music more beautifully, more intensely, more devotedly than ever before.” For many of us, what happened here in Boston at the marathon was unthinkable and unspeakable; we searched for answers in the aftermath and we will continue to search for answers for many years. For some of us, the wounds will never fully heal. But there is only one appropriate response—no, two appropriate responses. One is to love: we love to find forgiveness, to find peace, to find the deepest sense of humanity, to find whatever connects us to, well, what is greater than ourselves. And the other is music. Music transcends everything that we use to divide ourselves: it transcends age; it transcends countries, language, race, ethnicity, religion; everything that we use as a reason, as a catalyst, to dislike each other and even to dislike ourselves. Music transcends that and music can heal that. And that is why we’re here tonight.

I’ve been a classical musician all my life and, as I’m sure is the case with many of my colleagues here tonight, I started at a very young age. I knew from that early age that music was my identity—who I was, who I am—my calling. And it has brought me to some wonderful places: I’ve gotten to travel internationally, I’ve gotten to meet some incredible people. And that’s wonderful! It’s one of the privileges of being a musician, of having talent. But with that, with the privilege of performing in great concert halls, working with wonderful colleagues, playing this great music, aside from the hours of dedication that it takes, aside from everything else, requires a tremendous responsibility. This concert this evening was the best way I could think of to try and fulfill that responsibility: to use the gifts that I have and to bring together others who have an equal and greater amount of talent, passion and desire; bring them together to say “No matter what happens, no matter who tries to hurt us, we won’t give in. We won’t be hateful, we won’t be intimidated. We’ll turn to what we can, and we’ll be responsible.”

And all of you, by being here tonight, are taking responsibility as well. You’re taking responsibility by being good citizens, neighbors, friends, teachers, firefighters, husbands, wives, mothers and daughters, fathers and sons; everything that makes being part of a community one of the wonderful things about being a human being. I thank you again. We will now have the Beethoven ‘Symphony No. 9,’ which…says what I’m trying to say a lot better than I’m saying it. I hope that you enjoy it. Thank you again for being here tonight.

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