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The Whistleblower of My Lai

May 25, 2020 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm

Location: online

Join us for a special online film screening of The Whistleblower of My Lai, a film produced and directed by Connie Field based on Stanford composer Jonathan Berger‘s opera My Lai. Stay after the screening for a Q&A with film producer and director Connie Field, Kronos Quartet‘s David Harrington, dan tranh player Vân-Ánh Võ, and tenor Rinde Eckert along with director Mark DeChiazza, librettist Harriet Chessman, and composer Jonathan Berger. | Livestream at CCRMA Live

About the film: The Whistleblower of My Lai is a unique fusion of opera and documentary that blends the emotional crystallization of a dramatized human story with the concreteness of real life. It tells a story that captures both the best and worst of humanity through the examination of one incident in one man’s life: Army helicopter pilot Hugh Thompson and his discovery and exposure of the My Lai massacre in Vietnam. The opera was created by composer Jonathan Berger and librettist Harriet Chessman and performed by the Kronos Quartet, tenor Rinde Eckert, and master Vietnamese musician, Vân-Ánh Võ. The richly evocative score by Berger alternates between bursts of dense, frenzied activity and slow, hymn-like harmonies of aching sweetness. The story portrays Thompson in his final days, dying of cancer and desperately trying to make some sense of the events of 40 years earlier. The Whistleblower of My Lai premiered in Vietnam for the 50th anniversary commemoration of the massacre. 

One of Vietnam’s foremost directors, Đặng Nhật Minh, after watching the film, was very moved. “I have watched a lot of films about the Vietnam War. For the first time, I was exposed to a documentary combined with the power of opera, of music… This is a very daring and innovative film. Light shines even in the darkest hour. We do not despair, because there is still the light of human conscience. Specifically in this film, [pilot Hugh] Thompson is that light of humanity.”


General Public
Department of Music, Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics
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May 25, 2020, 5:00 pm
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