open letter to NPR (guest post)

Dear All Things Considered.

As a 20+ year listener to All Things Considered, I was really shocked and angered listening to the story titled: “For a musician in New York City, not being fully vaccinated comes at a cost.” I am a composer and performer. I also have tinnitus and would get vaccinated as many times as am asked. I have worked for the last 10 years to build a grassroots network of music-makers. This project has involved epic travel and endless performances. I have not given an in-person performance for nearly two years because I refuse to ask people to risk their lives, as well as the lives of anyone they could come into contact with on their way, to come see me. This is the true cost of a return to a music status quo. We as people have a right to music, but we do not have a right to an audience, Carnegie Hall or otherwise. As life and society change, music changes. We, especially musicians, must learn to listen over the background noise even when it is in our own heads– of this, Beethoven is always a good example. It is up to us to change with music, otherwise we join the voices asking for a return to the original context of so-called classical music: a return to despots, tyrants, and inquisitionists. This is the origination of the music we do well to keep alive so as not to forget. So many have already died so that this music could be made. I will not ask that a single other does just so that I may have a moment of attention.

Sincerely,

Cyrus Pireh, MM

Cyrus Pireh sits under a blue canopy playing electric guitar during an outdoor performance in Brooklyn.

The Songs of the Grandmothers

On Saturday I had the honor of hearing the songs of the grandmothers of COFAMIPRO, the Committee of Families of Disappeared Migrants of El Progreso. These women told us the stories of looking for their lost daughters and sons, who have been lost along the dangerous migrant trail between the US and Honduras or who lost contact with their families once arriving in the US. Rosa Nelly Santos told us about the heartbreaking work of repatriating remains, and how since 2000 she has walked with other mothers along the path wearing pictures of their children and asking around, hoping to find clues of where they were last seen. About the caravans, Rosa Nelly told us that they do not celebrate or agree with the migrant exodus because they would prefer to have people be able to stay in Honduras, but the most important thing is that no one disappears on an exodus. They may still die; but they will not disappear .

The women sang two songs they have written themselves: one for standing outside public offices demanding rights and recognition, and the second for when a person is found. It said “we don’t get tired of waiting.”

Together in a small circle, our Witness for Peace Solidarity Collective delegation cried with these women. We saw their pain, and held it with them for a few moments . We left them reluctantly in a flurry of hugs and smiles, always promising to share their stories.