The Style Almanac


Music, Art & Fashion for Peace: Joyce DiDonato at UC Berkeley

This past week, Cal Performances featured Grammy-winning Joyce DiDonato at UC Berkeley. The mezzo-soprano vocalist, who has been called, "the most potent female singer of her generation," by The New Yorker, collaborated with the Italian instrumental ensemble Il D'Oro. However, this wasn't an ordinary performance. 

In War and Peace - Harmony Through Music was created by Joyce DiDonato after the horrific attacks in France last year. Joyce was so halted by the senseless violence that she decided to completely change her original program, shifting to one that used music, art, and fashion to promote peace.


“As a citizen of the world in 2016 the temptation to spiral down into the turmoil and pessimism that seemingly permeates all corners of our lives can overwhelm me at times, and the temptation to simply give in to the dispiriting din of upheaval can devastate the spirit. And yet, I’m a belligerent, proud, willing optimist… Creators of great art have been depicting atrocity and pandemonium side-by-side with tranquility and equanimity for centuries, boldly showing us both our brutal nature and our elevated humanity. Art unifies, transcends borders, connects the disconnected, eliminates status, soothes turmoil, threatens power and the status-quo, and gloriously exalts the spirit. Art is a valiant path to peace.” 

While music encaptivated her audience, it was the intricate planning of costume and makeup that painted a picture of war and peace using fashion. In collaboration with Vivenne Westwood, Joyce worked with a team of coutierre designers to hand-pick fabrics and designs that reflected the harshness of war: dark metallics, shiny silvers, and angular renderings of fabric.  On the other hand, contrasting peace, was light and bright makeup designed in collaboration with Bethany Alderson. "Baroque opera was opulent and excessive and grand in wildly imaginative ways - this was a contemporary way to enter into that world of fantasy and surprise."

Although Joyce DiDonato has been described as one of the most talented vocalists of her time, the use of her platform to tell a story and call her audience to action is the most admirable of her work. While our world may be in turmoil; art, music and fashion are a constant that gives us the ability to express ourselves in a way that promotes peace in any culture, place, and time.


Courtesy of Cal Performances and Jeanette Peach



Marisa FlacksComment