The Tragedy of Silence
Duration: 11 Minutes
“The most urgent, the most disgraceful, the most shameful and the most tragic problem is silence.”
Dr. Joachim Prinz
March on Washington
August 28, 1963
In 1963, Dr. Joachim Prinz was among the leaders of the March on Washington. His speech, alerting Americans to the disgrace of silence in the face of injustice, preceded that of his friend Martin Luther King, Jr.
Silence is not necessarily the absence of sound. It is also the mindless repetition of talking points that are as unheard as the hum of a fluorescent lightbulb. It is found in those who ignore cries for help from those in need – even if they respond in the most hateful rhetoric to which the world is becoming accustomed. Silence is the result of the habits demonstrated perpetually by those active on social media platforms and partisan punditry, who seek sow social and political division for personal gain (or the ridiculous notion of “winning” over truth).
When conversations and debates involve waiting to talk in lieu of listening, both sides become essentially silent. As this behavior continues to grow, the world becomes unable to function in peace and stability or with empathy and charity.
Silence today is loud. It remains tragic.
The roots of The Tragedy of Silence originated with Dr. Prinz’s powerful speech at the March on Washington in 1963 as well as Odetta’s performances of the spiritual Oh, Freedom. As important is the notion that the same problem with Silence exists over 60 years later. The Tragedy of Silence is an invitation for reflection on the importance of Not Being Silent in the face of injustice and adversity.
The Tragedy of Silence was commissioned in 2023 by the Thompson/Kasler Duo (Bobbi Thompson, saxophone, and Ariel Kasler, electric guitar) with generous assistance from Western University, Ontario, Canada.
December 6-10, 2023
XIX World Saxophone Congress
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain