TITLE: "PIECE OF A ROCK ~ IN MEMORIAM
AUTHOR: Carol Ann Weaver
While musical memorials generally operate as expressions
of grief which give dignity and respect to the persons whose
lives have been taken, there are times and moments when the
very specifying of names within a memorial also becomes an
act of resistance to the very structures which would attempt
to keep those names silent. Not only is war dangerous, but
so is the very naming of victims.
As long as those killed remain nameless, the impact of their
deaths is minimized if not forgotten, further dehumanizing the
process of war. The very act of giving names becomes an act
of resisting the structures which allow these victims to become
statistics rather than human beings. No form of expression is
better able to redress this situation than one which allows for
individual names to be presented within the fluidity of a
musical context where ironies, grief, hope, and healing can be
Such has been my discovery while attempting to create a
piece of music in honour of civilians who died in the recent
war in Iraq.
Beginning with web searches and communications to
various international networks, I discovered that actual lists
of victims' names were made accessible only by John Sloboda
of iraqbodycount, who granted me permission to intone these
names within my jazz-related composition, "Piece of a Rock -
in Memoriam," a piece of music which hopefully can bring
together divergent cultures into places of dialogue.
While I have composed other memorials, I discovered
that composing music for victims of violence becomes a
strangely controversial form of expression where music
becomes "news" rather than "art" per se, allowing for a
social interaction among communities of people who are
dealing with wider expressions of human dignities and rights.
Producers have asked that I keep this memorial happy,
and that I speak about ALL wars, thus diffusing the focus
and impact of a particular war and failing to address inherent
grief of specific people within specific time.
However, because Picasso's Guernica was about a
'specific' war, it has become a piece against 'all' wars,
creating a powerful model for other expressive arts. The
local, if authentically expressed, becomes the universal.
Therein lies the responsibility for any spiritually-connected
music, the music of ever-constant change, to be alive and
responsive to the world about us, offering further ways to
activate changes within our human systems today.
Carol Ann Weaver
Bio type thing::: Carol Ann Weaver is an eclectic composer/pianist whose work
has been performed and aired throughout Canada, USA, South
Africa, and parts of Europe. Her genre-bending music ranges
in style from classical to jazz, avant garde to folk, creating
new fusions of roots and art music, much of it coloured by her
long standing passion for African music. Her CD, DANCING
RIVERS - from South Africa to Canada, features compositions
she composed while in South Africa and performed and
recorded with her band of leading South African jazz musicians.
Her previous CD JOURNEY BEGUN features well known
Canadian vocalist Cate Friesen, and contains Carol Ann's
imaginative musical settings of Mennonite poetry. Her first
CD DAUGHTER OF OLAPA, features music she wrote while
in Kenya as well as settings of Canadian poet Di Brandt.
Critics laud her work for its daring, its vitality, its blending of
cultural voices, its embrace of various styles. She is a music
professor at Conrad Grebel College/University of Waterloo,
Canada, and is a member of the Canadian Music Centre and
the Association of Canadian Women Composers. Her most
recent collaborative compositional/performing work with
Rebecca Campbell is resulting in a rich, innovative performance
piece, AWAKENINGS, based on poetry of Di Brandt and
Dorothy Livesay, commissioned for and premiered at the
Wider Boundaries of Daring Poetry Conference in Windsor
and Detroit. This marks the most recent in a series of
collaborative works she has done with other writers such as
Rudy Wiebe, Judith Miller, Julia Kasdorf and others.
This article was originally published in Cross Cultures Magazine in Volume 10 - Issue 1 - 2004. Unauthorized copying, distribution or other usage without express written permission of the publisher is prohibited.