Moscow Nights

Piano Diplomacy

Van Cliburn

How culture can be used to lower the temperature of geo-political tensions.

Lately it seems the news headlines never cease in reminding us of the plethora of tensions humans create on our tiny little home called Earth.  We are constantly bombarded with news of geo-political, economic, racial, and class tensions which interweave into a seemingly endless patchwork of disparity and suffering.

At this same time, I personally have watched as the rise of technology seems to be coupled with the decline of culture.  Could this decline of culture possibly be related to rise in global tensions?

The video story above reminds us of a previous cultural icon, the renowned pianist Van Cliburn.  Amazingly, this one artist alone was responsible for easing tensions between two powerful adversarial nations.  Van Cliburn’s passion for music, piano virtuosity, and ability to create beauty in the midst of chaos may serve as a reminder of the power of culture. 

As an adult beginning piano student, I sometimes need a reminder of “why” I study music semester after semester.  Recently, after working sixty hours a week at my day job, and dealing with covid lock-downs, I struggle to try and find the energy to keep practicing.  Personally, the video story above reminds me of the reason I study music, and no matter how difficult, why I must never stop studying my piano.

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