En una frase:

"Escribir lo que le oigo decir a la gente en las calles y en las veredas con su lenguaje, con su bella claridad" - Alfredo Molano, periodista.

Elijah, a humble tribute to Marielle Franco

Protest for the assassination of Marielle Franco in front of the Brazilian Embassy in Madrid, Spain. Photo: G. Serrano


Edition: Patrick Maloney
Leer en español

I didn’t know her but an article in The Guardian described her as “an educated, articulate and capable young woman from a Brazilian favela”. Ernani da Conceição, a teacher from the neighborhood, said, “she represented renewal”. And Marcelo Freixo, a deputy in Rio’s state legislature and member of the Socialism and Freedom Party, said that she was, “one of my best friends, a very very strong and brave person but very sensible, with an unforgettable smile”.

I read these expressions of sorrow —spontaneously generated across the globe— because of the assassination of the Brazilian activist Marielle Franco, just a few hours after listening to the baroque oratorio Elijah, written by Felix Mendelssohn between 1845 and 1846. The basis of the script is from a translation of the Old Testament by Martin Luther. The four soloists’ drama and despair were underscored by the choir. The violins stressed the magnitude of tragedy of the drought in Israel. The brasses amplified the epic features from the Biblical passages. I mean that the whole was a tremendous display performed by the Spanish National Orchestra and Choir, guided by the impetuous temperament of Masaaki Suzuki, the Japanese musician and expert of Bach’s complete works.

But all this information became less important when I realized the relationship between this 19th century piece and the realities of our contemporary societies. I was struck by a phrase in the printed program which said, “A thousand will fall to your left side and to your right ten thousand and nothing will happen to you”. This is what not happened in Marielle’s case. Then I try to imagine the isolation of favela living, that world of exclusion she fought to dignify through her projects such as the museum which serves the community. And I thought that if nothing were to change and we allow the murder of a human rights defender, we should better repeat Elijah’s words, “Enough is enough! Take, Lord, my soul, for I have not been better than my parents. I do not want to live longer: let me die, I live in vain”.

I suppose, I would like to think that classical music is not just for the delight of the great bourgeoisie but is to help all of us to understand and feel the daily pain of others as if it were our own. That's to say the pain of those who are being left behind to feed the system, which we all maintain, but only the few enjoy, an economic and social model that lies in the premise “everything for us and nothing for the rest”. However, as the National Indigenous Council in Mexico suggests, “resistance, rebellion and determination to build a world in which all worlds have a place is international and goes beyond the calendars or geographies of those from the top who exploit us, despise us, steal from us and destroy us”.

Therefore, this oratory is for Marielle, so that her laughter remains. It was contagious! I have no doubt that her death and life were not just another number nor something that happened in vain.


Protest for the assassination of Marielle Franco in front of the Brazilian Embassy in Madrid, Spain. Photo: G. Serrano



Mendelssohn - Elijah - Complete Oratorio Op. 70




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