The Words of the Pickard Family

Kevin Pickard on the ballet Shim Chung

Angelika Selle
January 1987

The Universal Ballet Company, featuring principal ballerina Julia Hoon Sook Moon, premiered the ballet Shim Chung ("The Blindman's Daughter") on September 21, 1986, at the National Theater in Seoul, in commemoration of the 1986 Asian Games Arts Festival. Kevin Pickard, the director of the Performing Arts Department in New York, collaborated on composing the music for the ballet, which was taken from an ancient and beloved Korean folktale.

I was excited when I was asked to help compose the music for the ballet Shim Chung. Several people worked on the scoring together -- including Dong-sun Choi, the other composer, and the writer who put the folktale into three-act form, Yong-ku Pak. It took us roughly three months to finish it. To me it was a sign of victory that people of different nationalities could cooperate on this ballet. Because it was an international project we had to deal with global-level indemnity. We had to overcome nationalistic and language barriers and it was significant that we did that, with art as the vehicle.

I feel that working on Shim Chung was one of the most important efforts we have made in the field of performing arts because of the combined involvement of the Universal Ballet Company, the Korean Cultural Association, the Korean Dance Association, and the National Symphony Orchestra of Korea. We aimed at a high level of professionalism. Adrienne Dellas, the artistic director of the Universal Ballet, was the choreographer, and she and I collaborated on both the dramatic line and the music. I felt this effort was a prototype of the kind of investment it will take to raise our movement's internal standards of culture to continually higher levels.

This ballet is based on a Korean folk tale about a daughter who sacrifices her life for the sake of her blind father. Father himself outlined the theme of this ballet in a logo -- Hyo which means filial piety. Adrienne had been studying Korean folk tales for years, trying to find one with the deepest content. I used the existing classical standards of music to express what I felt Father wanted this piece to convey.

Divine Proportion

When you write music, you have to study the great composers like Beethoven and Tchaikovsky, because the classical norms of music -- for example, the harmonic system -- have been revealed in their works. To illustrate, we study the major and minor prophets in the Bible in order to recognize the standard of truth. The major and minor composers in music history have to be looked at in the same way, because they helped to substantially reveal the standards of music that already existed in the mind of God.

In my own life I have tried to emulate the classic masters. I have tried not to just take literally from their styles but to understand how God has used classical forms to express harmony and divine proportion. If the form is not correct or out of proportion, the content will not be revealed properly.

To me, the restoration of art has to do with the recreating of the ideal standard -- the rediscovering of the true patterns of human relationship. Art may be one of the last things to be restored because it is so dependent on the ideal relationship between subject and object and masculinity and femininity. So long as the imperfect world exists, and so long as even the chosen people have the restoration of their own character to accomplish, art will be imperfect. Art can grow absolutely as those seeds of perfect character -- our blessed children -- start to flesh themselves out through the generations.

The restoration of culture has to begin with the education of our own membership; then we have to be very serious about educating the second generation to embody the ideal standard Father has set. We have to embody the kind of love that allows a beautiful work of art to be born. For example, if a poet has a God-centered marriage, then his poetry will be a reflection of his harmonious life. Father once said that when love hasn't been restored, how can you expect the art form to reflect God's ideal?

Of course, we can express the ideal symbolically even while our restoration is still going on. But Father has already projected, in his own spirit and body, the example of an ideal in the form of his ultimate love with Mother. What we have to do is to start digesting this example and make it our own.

The Restorational Course

In trying to harmonize with True Parents' tradition, what I am doing in my work has more to do with restoration than with art, only because I can't see a way for me to reach my personal artistic goals without going through the restorational course. I have experienced True Father's guidance on four different continents, and his message is essentially the same: Our artistic ideas have to go hand in hand with the restoration of the individual, the marriage, the family, and the society. Father said that without a family or a moral base, an artist is crippled.

My honest feeling is that the theme of restoration is inseparable from art, that is, during this time period after the fall and before the ideal world comes. Artists throughout history have dealt, although perhaps not always consciously, with the issue of the fall. Certain works have actually expressed outright what the Bible was saying only symbolically. The legend of the betrayal of King Arthur has been continually revived as material for literature. The story of Faust, the man who sells his soul to the devil, is another example. People can catch the vision of the fall through such archetypal literature even when they are not religiously inclined.

Because the major pattern of relationships in the fallen world is so affected by historical resentments, much of the work of an artist concerned with restoration has to do with indemnifying failed relation- ships. As the director of the Performing Arts Department, I emphasize the restoration of these patterns very much among the members. They have spent 10 years or more trying to digest the subtleties of the failure of the archangel to serve and love Adam, as well as the failure of Adam to be sensitive to the archangel. For example, the person in a technical (archangel) position in a production has the task of harmonizing with the heartistic aspect of the one in Adam's position. How difficult this is to do, to have mutual respect! It is extremely difficult in the arts. I don't feel that we can even express the Completed Testament Age of art until we have totally digested these historical pat- terns of resentment. Until then we are only imitating beauty or symbolically expressing beauty; the sub- stance is yet to come.

I dwell on restoration as an approach to the ideal because I feel most artists completely bypass this process. They think that as long as they are expressing their ideals they don't have to bother with the whole idea of indemnity. In one sense an artist has the right to express his ideals in his own way, but if he does only that, he risks becoming an isolated dreamer. Artists have to re- store their position in the world; they have to become respected as healthy, responsible members of society. I feel the Performing Arts Department has the task of indemnifying this historical problem.

I began working with performing arts in the church by starting the Go World Brass Band, which first played at the Yankee Stadium rally in 1976. During that time Father officially created the Performing Arts Department. It's been a long course of restoration, but I can see ahead of us the fulfillment of a great vision. Father wants to ensure that the people who take responsibility for this area are mature and ready for the task.

Most of the Work Is Preparation

In the art world, you need to have control over the complicated emotions that arise, such as the frustrations of an artist who feels that his ideas aren't being understood or expressed correctly in the overall production. To me, restoring these things is even more important than creating the work of art itself, because ultimately, you can't have a great work of art unless you have mastered the correct form. Father has indicated that it can take as long as five years to create a masterpiece. Frankly, I think that the first four of those years are to get the restoration in order. It doesn't take that long to create the actual piece of music or the actual choreography. Most of the work is in the preparation.

I remember the night we composed the music for one of the scenes from the ballet, the "Mermaids' Can Can." Adrienne asked me to write a section of the score that night, but I was very tired, and she was too. I felt the spirit world had to help, because I had no more to give of myself. I trusted her as the subject in the creation of this ballet, and I knew we had to go ahead with it right then. So we turned on the tape recorder, and in one moment, just while we were trying to improvise the piece, the piece was composed. It took no time at all. It was composed as soon as it was requested because the spirit world helped. The reason the spirit world helped, I believe, is because the restorational form was correct. More effort on my part went into the restoration of the form than into the actual creation of the piece. By "restoration of the form" I include my own restoration in the Principle as well as the 20 or 30 years of my life I spent learning the correct form in music.

Similarly, calligraphers in the Orient spend their whole life learning how to draw a line, and then they do a calligraphy painting that expresses the sum of all their years of discipline and training. The time is not taken in doing the thing itself but in doing everything that leads up to it.

Art Is the Stimulator

I don't have the unrealistic attitude that art is somehow the cure-all for mankind's spiritual and social ills. If by itself it were a cure-all, as many people think, then the song "We Are the World" would have solved the problems in Africa. For now, art is only catalyst, a way to awaken people, but the major substantial restoration still has to take place. Art can only awaken us so that we can go through the necessary indemnity process.

However, on God's Day 1986 Father said, "Art is the peer of religion." That means equal to it -- not below it. He also once said that watching five minutes of a performance of a great work of art can have the same emotional value as hearing three hours of a Principle lecture. Art is the stimulator of religion. It definitely goes hand in hand with the religious impulse; ideally there is no separation. As Father emphasized, it's just a matter of time and restoration before the two are one.

A great deal of internal preparation has to take place in our movement before we could begin to have a substantial art project like this ballet or the ongoing program of the New York City Symphony. At the present time the New York City Symphony is a major art project that can begin to rise above ground level.

I believe the internal culture of the Unification movement can be defined by what True Parents are trying to establish in the world of art. It will take time before we can actually build our own culture, just as it took Christianity at least several hundred years before it could even elucidate the ideas that reflected its culture. Unification culture, though, has accelerated much faster than Christian culture did in its beginnings. There is already more room for new works of art, new sounds, and new images that can express the glorious spirit of life that our True Parents have brought to the earth. 

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