Active Listening #1: Dreamcatcher by Marcos Balter

Active Listening is a series that unites composers with audiences who care about social justice. The goal of this series is to inspire empathy, educate listeners, and offer steps to actively support each cause. Each composer has chosen to address a social justice issue they feel passionate about, and with each installment, actions which listeners can take are provided.  A new installment of this 10-part performance video and interview series will be released on the first Wednesday of each month through September 2019, featuring works commissioned and performed by pianist Lior Willinger. This project has been funded by an award from the Presser Foundation.

Today, we release the first installment of Active Listening. The series wholeheartedly embraces music as a vehicle to connect the dots from caring to learning to doing. In this digital age, it has never been easier to become instantly involved with the causes we care about. As musicians, we need to step up our game. With music, we have the power to create a space for reflection and empathy. From there, we can create a foundation on which to discuss problems and how to approach them. With each installment, the composer and/or performer provides ways you, as a listener, can help the cause at hand. We hope our music inspires compassion and, ultimately, action. Let’s fully embrace our capacity as individuals to push for a better world for one another.

Dreamcatcher by Marcos Balter

As we begin to look back at a hectic 2018 and hope for a brighter 2019, Marcos Balter’s Dreamcatcher reflects on the horrors of the family separation crisis. Thousands of children were separated from their families due to the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance policy.” Adults attempting to cross the border into the US were placed under custody and criminally prosecuted regardless of whether they were seeking asylum. This heartless policy resulted in children being taken away and put in detention facilities. The battle for humane treatment of immigrants continues.

Thousands of migrant families are still detained. Children remain separated from their families. Recently, tear gas was fired upon Central American asylum-seekers at the border. The termination of temporary protected status for 406,000 immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador, and Honduras looms. The protections of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which prevents deportation for about 800,000 undocumented immigrants who arrived as minors (known as Dreamers) and offers access to work permits and education, are set to expire. A new proposal to replace the Flores settlement would allow migrant families to be detained indefinitely while their immigration case is pending.

So what can we do?

  1. Check out Stay up-to-date with the immigration issues and push your officials to act.
  2. Donate to groups doing good work on behalf of immigrant children. Here’s a portal to help over a dozen organizations. The recording of Dreamcatcher is available for download on Bandcamp. All proceeds from the sale of this track will go to support these organizations.
  3. Lastly, keep caring about important issues, even if they fall out of the news cycle. Continue to push for justice if there is work to be done.

In 2019, let’s do our best to create a world in which we treat every human being with compassion, regardless of their nationality, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, social class, and political views.

May 2019 be a year in which love reigns over fear.

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