On May 28, 1992, Vedren Smajlovic, the lead cellist in the Sarajevo opera, put on his formal black tails and sat down on a fire-scorched chair in a bomb crater and began to play. The crater was outside a bakery in his neighborhood where twenty-two people waiting in line for bread had been killed the previous day. During the siege of Sarajevo in the early 90’s, more than ten thousand people were killed. The citizens lived in constant fear of shelling and snipers while struggling each day to find food and water. Smajlovic lived near one of the few working bakeries where a long line of people had gathered when a shell exploded. He rushed to the scene and was overcome with grief at the carnage.
For the next twenty-two days, one for each victim of the bombing, he decided to challenge the ugliness of war with his only weapon— beauty.
He’s known as the “Cellist of Sarajevo.” After that, Smajlovic continued to unleash the beauty of his music in graveyards, at funerals, in the rubble of buildings, and in the sniper-infested streets. Although completely vulnerable, he was never shot. It was as if the beauty of his presence repelled the violence of war. His music created an oasis amid the horror. It offered hope to the people of Sarajevo and a vision of beauty to the soldiers who were destroying the city.
A reporter asked him if he was crazy for playing in a war zone. Smajlovic replied, “Why do you not ask if they are crazy for bombing Sarajevo?”
War, for some, is supremely practical. It is the willingness to sacrifice literally everything to achieve a goal. When the tanks of war roll - everything is crushed beneath their treads, leaving only ugliness behind.
Art is the opposite of war. It is an act of creation rather than destruction, order rather than chaos, and beauty rather than ugliness. By playing his cello in the center of war- torn Sarajevo, Smajlovic was planting a garden amid the battlefield. He was reminding us that “Creating beauty is our highest calling.”
Human Psyche and Music
When distressed, sad or angry our natural instinct is to seek refuge...find a way to get beyond the moment. When we feel the need to cry, we are drawn to music we know prompts a tearful response. When happy and joyful, sad songs are completely out of the question.
One of the great gifts of music; when completely unexpected, we find ourselves experiencing elation, great sadness or somewhere in the middle of an adventure and we don't know where the music will take us. In a choral group, our lives are almost never in the same place emotionally. But together, we create or experience those emotions that make us all human. When we find common ground, those things that divide us can bring us together in a spirit of understanding.
Music is Beauty
All of us are drawn to beauty; sunsets, star-filled skies, flowers, trees, paintings, great literature and architecture. The list becomes infinite when we intentionally seek beauty and ignore the distraction of a frantic media driven world. Our greatest pleasure is derived when we create beauty. When we take our unique giftedness and individuality and make something the world may never see or hear but brings us a sense of pride - something that demands our very best effort. While it may be true, "beauty is in the eye of the beholder," beauty is first experienced in the heart and mind of its' creator.
At BeckRidge, we take the unique giftedness of many to re-create the beauty and truth of a given moment in time and history. We never approach a rehearsal or performance in exactly the same place. However, if at the end of the night we bring a desire to create beauty, understanding and a willingness to see the world beyond our limited focus, our world becomes the place our heart desires.
Beauty is something we must value. When we value it, we will seek it out, protect it, share it and perhaps most importantly, pass it on to our children.
We want to help you add more beauty to your life!
At BeckRidge we have choirs and programs for all ages. You decide where you would like to fit in. Go ahead, reach out to us. Tell us your interests and we will help you find an avenue to bring more beauty to your life!
40525 Koppernick Road
Canton, MI 48187
2019 © BeckRidge Productions
We share our love of the arts through study, practice and performance.
We strive to be educational, entertaining and inspirational.
We pursue excellence and professionalism in all aspects of our organization.
We seek to build fellowship on a foundation of dignity and respect.
We believe in community service through the sharing of talents and resources.