The Pianist: Polish Political Protest

There is something profoundly venerable about an artist who is not afraid to speak up.

In this age of vapid celebrity personalities who gurgle amidst a significant burgeoning of global political consciousness, too few of the high profile artists of our world offer anything in the way of honest political awareness.

Krystian Zimerman is an exception to be admired.

He is, you may have noticed in some headlines, a manifestly respected concert pianist from Poland who has since September 11th gradually decided to make use of his stage for sounds other than music.

"Get your hands off my country" he told the audience at the Los Angeles Disney Hall on April 26, informing a great deal of America and the world that href="">President Obama intends to press ahead with George W.'s plans to install a missile-defense shield in Poland to counteract the threat of Iran. Poles fear the shield will actually threaten their Russian neighbors instead.

When some members of the audience took exception to Zimerman's reminder that all the world's a stage for politics, he replied, "Yes, some people when they hear the word military start marching." He added that this would be his last performance in the United States, citing US military policy, including Guantanamo Bay.

You may agree or disagree with his position, but do consider applauding him for his bravery and even more, his sincerity. It is not a small feat to become a concert pianist. Even more difficult to make a life of it. Already Zimerman stands out from the countless popular artists we all know and recognize who may have put less effort and talent in their stardom than he did.

But they all have a platform from which they can speak.

When the Dixie Chicks broke their silence against their homestate homewrecker, then President George W., they were brutally derided for mixing politics and art. They were even forced to apologize for it.

Such bravery is to be commended not condemned.

And it is from the stage that such sincerity is most valuable. There, at the height of a performance as the audience is rapt with the aura of creative expression, is the only moment when an idea can be transformed into a statement.

History, if not the audience, will take kindly to such protest.