Voices Against Vanity: How Music Battles Social Insanity

In choral music, I found my tool for social change. Growing up in a Latin American country with a sociologist mother, I witnessed social injustice firsthand. I gained class consciousness and experienced crises personally. I’m talking about financial crises on a scale unimaginable to any developed country. Like you, I’ve witnessed the emergence of political fissures. This polarization among neighbors has escalated to the point of breaking any dialogue. How much empathy have we lost? How much humanity has slipped through our fingers?

We witness the time and energy humans spend focusing on creating conflicts, from the smallest to the most atrocious. Some nights I wonder, how many resources have we, as humanity, used to create discomfort? We look for someone to blame, we accuse and curse. How much energy has been wasted on this? There is so much time and resources invested in it. I am convinced that if we could add up all the human hours spent worldwide on generating discord, we would discover they are enough to live thousands of lives. And here you might ask, where are you going with this, Santi? Here’s my point.

The essential point is that we have numerous tools capable of fostering social integration, and I’m not talking about superficial or half-hearted integration. I speak of a deep, perhaps radical, type of integration where people with diametrically opposite views and behaviors can come to a central place to collaborate and create well-being for one another. There are many methodologies to achieve this, but the spell cast by choral music is the most powerful I have experienced in my life.

As a composer, I am aware that I alone cannot change the world —nor that choral music will — but I am also aware that a simple score is one of the most powerful weapons humanity has. It’s a missile that unites thousands of people. It’s the weapon that, when fired, automatically creates unity among people. To grasp the magnitude of what I am expressing, consider that writing music involves knowing that once the scores finally reach the conductor’s hands, those neighbors who usually do not exchange words will not only manage to connect but will also resonate together with exactly the same message. For the first time, they will say the same words and believe in them. They will be able to create beauty and have the opportunity to generate well-being for one another. This is an extremely powerful spell that strips the human soul bare and reveals that, by uniting, we are capable of providing pleasure, setting aside our differences, and, with humility, each contributing our grain of sand to create well-being and be part of something wonderful.

And here something even more magical arises. During the concert, that energy expands. And if the lyrics and message of the piece speak of this union, it’s very likely that the audience will capture the message and resonate with it. Let us be aware that this spell is not eternal, but perhaps with enough repetitions, it could become a habit and foster greater empathy among us. Let us also be aware that we are all moving in the same direction; after all, none of us will get out of this adventure called life alive. Considering that, on average, we have only 30,000 days of existence, why would we waste a single moment on hate? Why not channel that energy into building bridges instead of walls? Can we imagine how much well-being we could generate if we redirected just a fraction of that effort toward unity and mutual understanding?

I write music from this place, from the conviction that we were born into a world where the social context must improve significantly. I firmly believe that my music has the capacity to unite, to cast a spell that can even bring the most distant people together to create beauty and provide well-being for one another. I vehemently refuse to accept even the slightest hint of discrimination or segregation, because as long as we are mortal, we all share the same beginning and the same end, and that, undeniably, defines us as human beings.

As Eduardo Galeano said upon receiving his Stig Dagerman Award in Sweden on September 12, 2010, “May we be stubborn enough to continue believing, against all evidence, that the human condition is worth it, because we have been poorly made, but we are not finished (…) May we keep alive the certainty that it is possible to be a compatriot and contemporary of everyone who lives animated by the will for justice and the will for beauty, no matter where they are born or when they live, for the maps of the soul and of time have no borders.


Santiago Veros


Estimated reading time 3:50 minutes

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