Unintended Consequences

I imagine that I’m typical of the regular readers of NewMusicBox in that I’ve been using the internet to follow news of the London riots. On Sunday, The Guardian newspaper in London published this story, detailing some very sad consequences for the new music community. The flutist Carla Rees, a true friend of experimental music, had her residence burned to the ground, and in the process lost her two cats, 10 flutes—several of which were specifically designed for her—and her library of over 600 scores, including many originals of works commissioned by her and her ensemble, rarescale.

Although I don’t know Ms. Rees, other than through limited contact via social networking sites, I admire her advocacy of innovative music and her performances of new repertoire. She serves as a strong proponent of new performance possibilities on the flute and helps to educate aspiring flutists and composers on new microtonal possibilities through her quarter-tone alto flute teaching method. I hope that our community can rally to speed her return to concertizing and creating.

Also on Sunday, I learned the sad news that my former student Nathan Krasnopoler died from injuries he sustained last spring when a car made a turn and ran over him while he was riding his bicycle in a designated bike lane. Nathan was an incredibly bright presence in my rock music history course, a student who stood out even in the large lecture class. We often discussed his interesting musical tastes and he even brought his own speakers to class when he felt that the room’s sound system wasn’t capable of doing justice to our unit on hip-hop. It was an honor to get to know him and to work with him for a brief time.

I firmly believe that the protestors in London didn’t set out to harm creators of experimental music or doctoral students in the arts, just as I know that the driver didn’t intend to kill a bicyclist. In the latter case, the accident appears to have resulted from someone not paying enough attention to her surroundings while controlling what we often forget is large and dangerous machinery. In the former case, protests of legitimate grievances quickly spun out of control. Yet the specific actions of individuals led to irrevocable damage and to serious consequences affecting entire communities.

As we move through our daily lives, it’s easy to forget that everything we do affects the people around us. When we speak in anger or ignore someone else in order to assert our own personal space, our actions and inactions resonate through webs and networks and can amplify to the point where we might harm those who we most want to help. While we’re protesting an injustice or turning into our driveway, we might be creating even greater injustices or forever changing someone else’s life for the worse. Actions have intended and unintended consequences. These consequences can damage extended communities, including our new music community.

2 thoughts on “Unintended Consequences

  1. Christian Carey

    David,

    Thanks for bringing Carla’s plight to our attention. A heartbreaking story: I hope that many will help her to rebuild. I’m also tremendously saddened to hear of your student’s passing. Too many folks don’t pay attention and don’t take appropriate care of others when they drive.

    I think you’re giving too easy a pass to the rioters. Their behavior has caused pain and suffering to many people (and, apparently, gentle creatures) who were not the “cause” of their dissatisfaction with the conditions in their society. How can one’s consequences be entirely unintended when they choose to loot and to start fires?

    Thanks, as always, for a thought provoking and insightful column.

    Best,
    C

    Reply
  2. Tod Brody

    Thanks for posting this on NMB. The flute community has rallied around to try to help Carla Rees get to the other side of this tragedy, and some in the NMB community may also want to help. The London-based Just Flutes has provided Carla with some instruments to play, and has also set up a fund where people may contribute $$$ to help her “regain a sense of normality in her life.” The web page is at http://www.justflutes.com/fund-for-carla-rees-page66.html

    Reply

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