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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.”



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