Joyce DiDonato sits down with WFMT to talk about Carnegie Hall’s new album release Hopes & Dreams for the Lullaby Project. She talks about the profound effect music has had on her life and its ability to help our youth discover the power of empathy.
“The arts in our schools today, and in general society, have sort of been pecked away at. I think we’re starting to raise children in our society that don’t have an outlet to express themselves,” mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato said. “They don’t have an outlet to go to and try to sort through the thorny issues that they’re feeling when they’re 13, 14, 15, and the world doesn’t make sense to them, and they don’t know where they’re going, and everything is confusing.
If kids have an artistic outlet, that’s an outlet for them to express violence and uncertainty and joy and tragedy through music, through art, through sculpture. They get, in a therapeutic way, to work through these issues. If you take that away from kids, they’re going to find another way to express themselves and to sort out their place on this planet, and oftentimes it will be a violent one, often it will be against things and angry. We see that in the news. We see that coming to life.
I’m not saying that art is the only way for a lot of people, but I know statistically, we have the studies the prove it, it is a very effective way to build connected human beings who have a sense of empathy and where they fit into the world. That is a powerful, formative, beautiful thing to give ourselves as a society.”
DiDonato hopes that The Lullaby Project can, in its own way, help humanity learn better from the past, even if we can’t completely break from the cycles it is in. “There is optimism when the child hears their mother say, ‘I want the world for you. I have so many hopes and dreams for you. I love you.’ That child is going to have a more secure sense of where they fit into the world. They’re going to be less afraid when they step out into it. If we can build children that aren’t so afraid of everything, they’re going to walk out and they’re going to contribute to the world to a secure, calm, place full of self-esteem, bringing their best selves into the world. I know that sounds sort of Pollyanna and it sounds simplistic, but I really don’t think it is. I think when you have a child who knows who they are, and knows who they are in the context of the planet, they’re going to go out and contribute positively to the world. That gives me hope, 100%.”