The morning’s half-foot of snow had just barely turned to slush, but somehow more than 50 people made it to the Friends Meeting House in Poughkeepsie, NY last week in a display of care, generosity, and solidarity with the refugee families who will be moving into our community. I came up with the idea of doing a fundraising recital several months ago, but it would not have been possible without the many people who jumped in to enthusiastically show their support. It really does take a village…
Since many people expressed regret that weather or geography proved insurmountable, here are two video excerpts from the performance. This first piece, which followed some opening words from a long-time member of the Meeting House, is the Flute Sonata in e minor by J.S. Bach. He wrote it in the early 1700s, either just before or just after his move to Leipzig, where he worked as music director at the St. Thomas Church until the end of his life. Unlike much “flute” music from the Baroque period, the sonata was indeed written for transverse flute, rather than recorder. However, the flutes in that day only had one key, rather than the many keys you can see on a modern instrument. Because of this, performers had to contend with rather uncomfortable fingerings – in addition to the lack of time to breathe.
The final piece in the program was Franz Schubert’s Introduction and Variations on “Trockne Blümen.” The song from which the piece’s theme was drawn, whose title translates to “Dried Flowers,” is the 18th song in Schubert’s song cycle Die Schöne Müllerin. In the cycle, a wander describes falling in love with a miller’s daughter, who initially returns his affections but, after a brief fling, ends up leaving him for a hunter. The song that these variations are based on comes about ¾ of the way through the cycle, and in it the wanderer imagines the flowers that his lover gave him lying dead upon his grave. At the end of the cycle, the wanderer drowns himself in the same river that feeds the mill. Despite its somewhat dark qualities, there are also many tender moments in the piece, which is one of my favorites in the flute repertoire.
In a year that has been full of xenophobic, racist, and Islamophobic fearmongering, please consider giving your time or money to a local organization that empowers members of your community who are under attack by those who have chosen fear. If you are not sure whom to support, consider giving to the UN’s refugee agency, the UNHCR.
Special thanks go out to Michael Skelly for playing piano, Brandon Codrington for turning pages, the Friends Meeting House for donating use of their space, and members of Vassar Temple for helping with coordination, publicity, and the reception.