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Talking To Children About Art During War

Until recently, the geographically closest war in my lifetime was the war in Yugoslavia. I only remember it as a single terrifying school fieldtrip, when I was perhaps eight, to a cinema where they screened a graphic documentary about it to a theater full of Czech children. I mainly remember men with noses blown off by mines staring blankly into the camera. Later, in my mid-twenties, I studied with a voice teacher in Zagreb, Croatia, and I met people my age whose earliest memories were of those conflicts: a soprano who had witnessed, though didn’t remember, part of her family getting machine-gunned and fed to pigs when she was three or a tenor who once punched the wall when he couldn’t reach a high note, then launched into a long explanation in Croatian (the pianist leaned over to me and, by way of translating, said, as if apologizing for him, “His family was deeply traumatized by the war.”) And yet, in Zagreb, you wouldn’t guess there was war in recent memory. It came up in hair-trigg

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