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“Singing to Drown Out the Riots in Turkey”

June 2, 2013 at 10:28 pm UTC

So writes Heidi Greimann, who just posted her Virtual Choir video from Turkey:

“Hello from country #63!

I just wanted to share a little story of what happened the weekend I decided to upload my video.

As you may have seen in the news, there have been massive protests and brutal police violence on the streets in Istanbul this week. And not only in Istanbul–all over Turkey, including Ankara, where I live. Yesterday and today I had to leave work early because there were protesters directly outside my building, and gas bombs being thrown. You couldn’t breathe properly even several blocks away.

Today it’s even worse, with reports spilling in about people being killed and injured. Facebook is flooded with angry notes about freedom and dictators and all these horrible things. Seeing the riot police lining the streets on my way to work, hearing my friends talk about running from the police, all of it has made me feel unsafe for the first time in this country. It’s an ugly place at the moment.

But I remembered something that Leonard Bernstein once said, “This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely,more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.” And so I decided to distract myself from the danger on the streets by recording my VC4 video anyway. I decided that in response to the destruction and violence on the street outside, I would do the opposite and create, add some beauty to the world in my own small way.

For the first time I thought about the words “fly to paradise,” this idea that people are hoping for a better future and trying to escape the nightmare reality around them. It was so much more meaningful to me in the midst of this uncertainty, thinking about the ways in which humanity has this common dream of seeking a place they can call paradise. And whether or not these protests are a step toward a better future for my Turkish friends, the Virtual Choir is absolutely a place of refuge, of togetherness, of beauty. It is paradise.”


  • utteto

    wow.. just WOW :’) people should read this

  • Wei Jiang

    Beautifully written Heidi. Thinking of you every day, hoping things are settling down. And as always, honoured to sing with you.

  • Karen McCants

    Oh my God, Heidi—what a stunning post. You are exactly right and very inspiring. Thank you—and stay safe.

  • Barbara W

    Heidi, the wondrous thing about VC4 is that we stand TOGETHER as music makers and friends. We stand with you dear girl and pray for your safety and your peace. We hold you in the LIGHT!

  • neferti2000

    Our thoughts and prayers are with you, Heidi. Stay safe!

  • Anastasia Mccarter

    Goosebumps. Music is powerful, universal.
    Stay safe! So glad you were able to find some kind of refuge in the community.

  • Brandon Quam

    Hope this story gets mentioned during any forums that VC4 might get brought up in (TED, media interviews etc.). Really cool stuff….I especially like the “fly to paradise” bit.

  • Marie Gouba

    Heidi- It’s amazing that with all of the chaos going on around you, that you have found a place of refuge with music. Stay safe and thank you for sharing your story.

  • Cindy Duprey

    Keeping you in my prayers and sending good thoughts your way. Keep the music flowing!

  • RileyS59

    Bless you Heidi and keep safe. You’ll be in my thoughts and prayers.

  • KValer10

    Wow Heidi Your words bring such richness to the song we’ve all just sung. It’s amazing what people can do when we are given the opportunity to collaborate and work together towards a common goal. Thank you to Eric for writing amazing music. Thanks to his Tech friends for helping to figure out a way to bring voices together. thanks to entities like Kick starter who made it possible for little bits to equal something much larger than the sum of our parts. Slowly but surely, we are beginning to wake up and understand we don’t have to accept the world governments and corporations want to sell us. We can build our own future. We each offered our one little voice – yet together we make a mighty chorus. One song – one choir – one world – one future. Thanks for sharing.