Two columns related to the ongoing war. The first one describes a remarkable event plus a remarkable movie. (Links to the full pieces embedded in the headlines.)

Film and symphony stir respect for Ukrainians (March 14):

Ukrainians are earning such sympathy around the world these days that even classical music fans in Mobile, Alabama, will interrupt Beethoven to pay respects to those beleaguered people.

Meanwhile, a documentary available on Netflix will do even more to earn support for the Ukrainian cause.

First, Beethoven. The remarkably good Mobile Symphony Orchestra, led by nationally respected conductor Scott Speck, traditionally uses one of its eight full concerts each year for a more casual “Beethoven in blue jeans” performance. The March 12 show, though, began with a twist.

The infectiously enthusiastic Speck usually gives a short explanatory introduction for each performance. Here — from my memory, so the words may not be 100% exact — is the surprising segue with which Speck ended his opening monologue about the soon-to-be-played Beethoven’s Eighth Symphony:

“Before we start, please allow a few thoughts: … Wonderful music can help us engage with the world and can express ourselves to the world. With that in mind, we will begin tonight with something different, and I welcome the audience to stand in respect or not, entirely as you feel appropriate, as we play the Ukrainian national anthem.”…. [Please read to find what happened next.]….

[Also,] the night before the symphony, my wife and I had watched a documentary on Netflix called Winter on Firewhich chronicled the 2013-2014 “Maidan” protest movement in Kyiv, and eventually throughout Ukraine. It is one of the most astonishing pieces of filmmaking, and almost certainly the best documentary, I have ever seen….

Time for a humanitarian airlift for Ukraine. NOW! (March 16): Sometimes an idea is so obviously good that one need only echo it, without any pretense of originality. Witness a proposal in the March 14 Wall Street Journal for a humanitarian airlift to save Ukrainian civilians…..



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