The art of protest: students celebrate justice through song


Photo by Aditi Bhandari. Daniel Bar-Lavi performs Niel Young's "Mother Earth" at the event. by Aditi Bhandari

Last Saturday evening, the Jones Residential College Great Room echoed with the sounds of American protest music of the last century. Organized by Spectrum Theatre Company as their first event of the year, “Every Hundred Years” drew performers and audience members from all corners of campus to celebrate social justice and equality movements through history. The concert was named after the popular protest song by Woody Guthrie, and featured songs about the women’s liberation movement, the civil rights movement and (of course!) environmentalism, amongst other causes.

The event was curated by Sinclair Willman and Tatiana Dalton, the special events directors for Spectrum. After several weeks of research and planning, the two came up with a list of songs that had called for change when they were written–several were still relevant to today’s times. In addition to advertising the event to recruit performers, they also reached out to student performers who they knew had an interest in performing socially aware pieces. One of the singers they contacted was Daniel Bar-Lavi, a sophomore theatre major who sang an acoustic version of “Mother Earth” by Neil Young. In Our Nature caught up with Bar-Lavi and Willman shortly after the event.

That was Daniel Bar-Lavi, singing Neil Young’s “Mother Earth” last Saturday in Every Hundred Years. A sophomore theater major, Bar-Lavi was one of more than 20 performers at the concert.

“I was interested in performing in this because I’ve always been interested in music is used as a platform for political expression and an expression of frustration with the situation in a society.”

“I’ve been very strongly interested in issues of the environment I guess since the sixth grade, and I was shown, “An Inconvenient Truth,” and I was just like, “Oh, well. This is awful.” ”

Sinclair Willman, and her co-director Tatiana Dalton, started working on organizing the performance in the summer.

“Spectrum decided to organize this performance because we felt like there needed to be an event that included not only voices from history that you don’t necessarily hear but also voices on campus that you don’t necessarily hear and see; in theater specifically.”

“We chose “Mother Nature” because it is one of the most beautiful protest songs about the environment, we feel. And not only is it a great song in and of itself, but the fact that Neil Young is such an advocate for sustainability and for environmental causes made it even more impactful.”

“Being the lone voice for the environment in this performance was very gratifying in a way, and very … I felt a sense of responsibility to do justice to that and … I hope I did.”

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