Stephen Horenstein
Music, Arts and Society

Elections and Birdsongs

8 AM Israel Time

We are now receiving news that the US House of Representatives has been “liberated”, and the Senate remains under central command. For me this is good news. I opt for balance of powers as well as a well designed gyroscope.

Meanwhile, another war of words, or shall I say songs, has been going on for the last months in Israel. As you may or may not know, a while back we were “invaded” by some foreign birds (goodness, this sounds so reactionary, sorry). After a couple came back from South America, they brought with them a pair of large Brazilian parakeets, and after getting sick of them released them to their freedom. The birds slowly multiplied and populated our skies, first in Tel Aviv and then throughout the country, including Jerusalem. Near my studio window and the balcony, they became especially fond of the large trees and spacious skies.  Their caws are unmistakable, as is their speed and cunning.

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What’s the “catch”? Our new visitors’ “song” is boring, raspy and intolerably LOUD. It pierces the morning serenity. It can be heard well above anything except the jack hammers, drills and trucks which whom it has signed a tacit agreement of co-existence. It is a one-note samba run through a squelch box of mayonnaise, rock candy and metal shards. For a bird song lover like me this is literally hell. Suddenly outside my window there is a war of songs, Team A the new visitors, Team B our gentle indigenous Jerusalem birds, each with their own delicate song, singing in quiet harmony, sometimes back and forth, sometimes together.

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But lo and behold! A miracle. Whether it be by coincidence or fate, today I woke up to hear only local birds; they were SO beautiful to hear! And not ONE searing caw could be heard. I heard infinite melodies, some of them short loops, others more complex–all in a delightful orchestra, a harmony of celebration!

Perhaps the cooling weather has drawn the “caw” birds (as I now call them) far away. Perhaps they will return.  Of course they deserve to live, but when they return I personally will offer vocal lessons to them, to teach them about acoustic balance and controlling timbre, especially when they sing in groups!

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Meanwhile we have some relief and are blessed by a well-tuned orchestra as well. It is a pleasure to wake up to, pure pleasure.

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P.S. Congratulations to the American people of regaining the House of Representatives! Bravo for balance of power and sane governance!

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About the Author
Stephen Horenstein is a composer, researcher and hermit. His repertoire of musical works has been performed and recorded worldwide. He is Founder and Director of the Jerusalem Institute of Contemporary Music, established in 1988 to bring the music of our time to a wider audience.
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