40 Years in America
Reflections on the Dispensation of Performing Arts
World-renowned violinist, Aaron Rosand, performing with the New York City Symphony at the Manhattan Center, David Eaton conducting.
"Give credit where it is due: The Rev. Sun Myung Moonís International Cultural Foundation has helped the New York City Symphony become one of Americaís finest orchestras." -- New York Daily News
It is obvious that my reflection is but that of one person among many who have made offerings to the arts dispensation in America. From the earliest days of our movement in the United States there has been a constant creative impulse present, an impulse that has produced many wonderful and historic artistic endeavors, from simple heartfelt songs of worship and fellowship to major productions at some of Americaís preeminent venues.
The tradition of having performances as a significant part of the celebrations of our churchís high Holy Days reflects our True Parentsí love of art and creativity. Indeed, the fact that God endowed human beings with the attribute of creativity, that unique aspect of His own character, is an expression of His love for His children. Iíve had numerous experiences in the performing arts in America, from the historical campaigns at Yankee Stadium and Washington Monument with my brother Kevin Pickard and the Go World Brass Band, Sunburst and The New Hope Singers, to touring with the C.A.R.P. Performing Arts ensembles Blue Tuna Band, the Front Group, Prime Force and the International Folk Ballet under Rev. Chung Goo Tiger Pak, to producing dozens of Holy Day entertainment programs with Linda Chapman Eisenberg.
Through the years Iíve always believed that the arts could exert a powerful influence over the society in which we live and be a powerful witness to the vision and ideals of our True Parents. This has always been an underlying motive for utilizing my God-given talents. Prior to meeting our movement in 1974 I felt strongly about the altruistic aspects of the arts. Fatherís vision for art and culture was something that attracted me to the performing arts. As with many artists in out movement, I had to put my personal desires on the altar in the manner of Abraham in order to gain a certain purity of heart.
The role of the artist in society is something that I personally find to be very important. The fact that art is the manifestation of beauty and emotion -- realms of the heart -- makes it an important front line in Godís dispensation. I know to some, that might sound a bit presumptuous; however, when I think of how creativity was invaded at the fall via sexuality, the supreme creative act, I feel that regaining Godís sovereignty in the creative process is a primary aspect of the dispensation.
At the World Culture and Sports Festival III in Washington, D.C. in 1997, I had several particularly deep and tearful experiences. The Festival included a week-long series of concerts and related cultural events which I produced under the guidance of Rev. Kwak and Mr. Neil Salonen. This was the first such cultural endeavor that our movement had attempted in the United States and I felt a deep sense of history, as if this was a culmination, an offering of many foundations that had been laid by True Family and many brothers and sisters who were members of the Performing Arts over the years.
In the spirit of Fatherís vision of creating a harmonized cultural expression, music, dance and art representing many styles, cultures and ethnic traditions were to be included in the Festival. Artists from around the world participated in WCSF III.
In the days just prior to the Festivalís beginning, problems occurred which seemed insurmountable and threatened the entire endeavor. I was faced with the prospect of having to inform a number of important artists that their performance might have to be canceled.
Through this difficult circumstance I reflected on past trials and tribulations that many performing arts members had faced in the past; all the fund-raising, witnessing, battling with communists on campuses with the CARP ensembles, the struggle to attain artistic perfection in less than perfect circumstances. The emotions of performing arts history seemed to be flowing though my heart. I was feeling that perhaps the culture aspect of WCSF III might have to be sacrificed for the greater purpose and I had this intense feeling that I was experiencing Godís heart of han.
In a tearful meeting with Mr. Salonen, I expressed my desire of what I had always hoped that the performing arts could become and how the Festival might be representative of that hope -- not just for me, but for God, True Parents and brothers and sisters who sacrificed so much in order to attain the spiritual development that Father urged us, instructed us, implored us to achieve as representatives of the arts dispensation. It was as if the entire endeavor now rested on faith -- one more test, one more condition of indemnity to be fulfilled, though now on the world level.
In the eleventh hour (literally), on the brink of mass cancellations, the seemingly insurmountable problems were solved. The Festival events went on as planned.
The Festival performances were artistically highly successful and I felt that God and the high spirit world worked powerfully to bring victory to all of the cultural events.
In retrospect, knowing that creativity is a front line of heartistic restoration, I should have known that a major test of faith would have been inevitable. I believe that the performances and endeavors of so many talented individuals who had participated in WCSF III represented Americaís offering to True Parents at a very significant time in Godís dispensation.
The 19th-century composer, Felix Mendelssohn, stated "music is more specific about what it expresses than words written about it could ever be." That is how I feel about so much of what Iíve experienced in my 23 years in the cultural dispensation. Words seem so inadequate to express the feelings and emotions that Iíve experienced.
Again, I am but one person among many whoíve given so much towards advancing the providence of culture in our movement. Hopefully we will see the day when all of our artistic endeavors can be fully representative of a culture of peace and True Love.
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