German orchestra Dresdner Sinfoniker is organizing a concert at the US-Mexico border on June 3 in protest of Donald Trump’s plan to build a wall. The orchestra invites other musicians to join them in solidarity to make sure the message gets through loud and clear.
Border walls have never been so prevalent. If you add up all the walls currently in existence plus the ones expected to be built, they’d extend over 25,000 miles – the equivalent of the Earth’s entire circumference! What’s worse is that most existing border walls were built after 2010. Donald Trump’s election as president of the United States and his plan to build a nearly 2,000-mile-long wall along the US-Mexico border confirms the trend of shutting down borders.
Nearly thirty years to the day since US President Ronald Reagan uttered the famous words: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” in 1987, the Dresden symphony will hold a concert on June 3, 2017 at the US-Mexico border to protest Donald Trump’s plan to build a wall.
The concert is not only intended to protest Trump’s wall; it is also a statement against nationalist political regimes and isolationism throughout the world. They want to demonstrate that music has no borders and that art can build bridges that break down cultural barriers. Orchestra director Markus Rindt answers our questions about the project below.
How and why did you decide to launch the “Tear Down This Wall” project?
We were going to Mexico anyway, for a tour. Donald Trump took office while we were planning the tour, and basically, he drew our attention to the wall with his big plans for the border and we thought: Why not get some colleagues out there to protest Trump’s ideology? And then one thing led to another.
As a German musician, do you sympathize with this wall issue at the US-Mexico border? Is it something that resonates with your own history?
Well, I grew up in East Germany – so I was surrounded by walls. I even fled East Germany shortly before the wall came down. I strongly oppose the idea of separating people and hindering them in their freedom to move freely. I also strongly oppose European isolation! Every week people are dying in the Mediterranean. I find this unbearable.
Is it the first time the Dresdner Sinfoniker has been politically involved?
No. We are a rather political orchestra. We have always looked at other countries, cultures, and musical traditions in order to understand others. The Dresdner Sinfoniker projects have combined music with socio-political issues for years. In 2013, we toured the West Bank and Israel, and in 2016 we made international headlines with our German-Turkish-Armenian concert «Aghet-Ağıt», a project commemorating the Armenian genocide.
Has the Kickstarter campaign also been a way to get more people (and musicians) involved in the project?
We have received support from more than 40 countries! The campaign has been an immense help in spreading the word across the globe. We’ve even received money from the Ivory Coast, Kenya and Taiwan. Many backers have offered their help.
What are the events planned along the border for “Tear Down This Wall?”
Unfortunately, American authorities asked us not to play across the border itself. But the Mexican side has been very supportive so far. And so has the city of Tijuana. Our concert in Tijuana’s Parque del Mar, on the US border, will still send a powerful message against the walls in people’s minds. One highlight will be a guided improvisation of “The Big, The Bug, The Cricket & The Quack” by Harald Thiemann, during which the Dresdner Sinfoniker, with help from Mexican and American percussionists, will transform the wall into an instrument.
How many artists and people are you expecting on June 3rd?
We are expecting 80 artists and an audience of more than 1,000. But it’s not about us! We are calling on all artists, musicians and like-minded people to get involved that day with their own performances or flash mobs along the 2,000-mile-long border. Authorities have only spoken out against the Dresdner Sinfoniker’s concert in Friendship Park in San Diego. Everyone is invited to participate and share videos of their own initiatives or projects using the hashtag #teardownthiswall.
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