I often wonder whether human consciousness is capable of evolving amidst the revolving doors of global health emergencies, social and economic upheaval, and Earth’s dramatically changing climate. If anyone had described, even as recently as a few years ago, the future world events of today, I would have been left in disbelief and wondering what more was yet to come.

Dystopia or not, few can deny the existence of a pervasive, tacit consensus reality that we humans are ultimately alone, insignificant, and separate from each other. We are told to distract ourselves from such an uncomfortable thought, and focus instead on the messaging that bombards us daily: fear and compliance are the new virtues to signal and will ensure our survival. Perhaps we comply with directives even if they feel destructive, accept narratives that feel illogical, or subjugate our suspicions of being gaslit.

It is a painful time to be a hopeful artist, somewhat less painful to be an obedient one. Looking at my young music students often leads me to wonder how they could possibly reconcile being so sensitive with such a dissonant, disorienting world that does not recognize how it obstructs them. They are asked to be champions of our discipline, society and planet, to be independent, innovative, creative and expressive in the same breath as they are told never to step out of line. I wonder how they process the inconsistency of how we celebrate history’s conscientious objectors and peaceful dissidents as heroes and role models, while punishing those of our present day.

A creative person being taught silence and compliance will need to blur the line between expressing themselves sincerely and offering themselves up to be consumed: this is a survival technique. The reality of our power, however, remains: to make choices to exercise kindness, compassion, respect and forgiveness, including to ourselves. We have the power to be true to our own voices, recognize the reality of our interdependence, and the futility of greed, envy, and selfishness in a way that awakens those around us. We have the power to see that turning away from the suffering of another sentient being does not erase its existence. We have the power to see ourselves as souls rather than commercial brands. Yet rather than living our lives through the lens of this power, we often choose to deny it. We tacitly accept what inevitably accompanies such a fight: the pervasive sadness, frustration, and rage that comes from yearning to be seen, heard, and understood. The most successful pay high prices behind what they allow us to see, secretly wishing for (and sometimes exploiting) the knowledge of pure truth held by those made to believe they are less successful, less relevant, less important.

In my experience, art is an inherent off-ramp from this unhappy place because of its ability to neutralize our experience of isolation, and to create a sacred inner space of subjective knowing that can then be communicated externally. Art transforms our headspace into one where focus on the individuated self, and the realities of our material existence temporarily recede. We are afforded a wider field of vision in which the suffering that accompanies human experience can simultaneously be viewed as an experience we all ultimately have in common. From this perspective, separation comes into focus as the illusion it is, and our suffering also comes into view as but one part of a larger context of existence that includes shared joy, love, and a hope to experience freedom. Art facilitates a becoming into wholeness, and is nothing less than the arena for human healing. Art reveals our responsibility to others. To me, it is not entertainment.

Music is the art form to which I have dedicated my life’s work, even as I continue my journey to make sense of its place. As a university teacher, I continue to strive to learn how to honour the gift of experiencing the trust of artists who have asked me to walk alongside their journey of discovering who they are. Indeed, teachers have an enormous responsibility to communicate these messages of connection and to stand as a compass for their students as they drift to and from centre amidst the chaos of the maturation process.

I’ve created this website to help summarize the facets of my work and approach. Perhaps you will find a home in these ideas. Perhaps you yearn to discover a creative space in which your process will be seen as more important than your product, or in which you feel freed from the imposition of templates on your creative identity. Perhaps you are seeking relief from oppressive feelings that your value somehow only exists by virtue of comparison to something or someone else. There is another way.

If you would like to reach out, please do. Thanks for visiting.

Kevin Komisaruk

Toronto, July 2022

Photo: Instrumental Society of Calgary