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Band Plays On
In Bill Doolittle’s contribution to the Feb. 28 arts and entertainment section of Leo, he issues a warning to would-be University of Louisville concertgoers: “While many of the pieces can be captivating, others — well, take our advice: When Corigliano is being performed, you could probably find some other useful things to do.” While Doolittle is certainly entitled to his opinion on the quality of John Corigliano’s vast body of musical work, I feel this statement is very presumptuous. In fact, “Tarantella” from Symphony No. 1 for Wind Band (the work that will be performed both in Louisville and New York) has only been previously performed a handful of times, and I doubt that Doolittle has had the opportunity to hear it live. Furthermore, the piece from which it is drawn, Symphony No. 1, has received a Grawemeyer Award for composition and a Grammy under the direction of Daniel Barenboim.
Of course, Doolittle is free to write whatever he chooses and is free to express his views on any music or composers. But, to publish a review of a work before it is even performed? These biased comments seem even more out of place in a section of LEO primarily dedicated to the promotion of cultural events. Even more unsettling, Doolittle’s use of “our advice” instead of “my advice” in this quotation allows readers to believe that the whole LEO organization considers Corigliano’s music a waste of time. This type of prejudice toward modern art music is why American culture is so littered with vacuous copies of pop songs. Without passionate experimentation, art cannot hope to advance.
Judging from the size of the crowd on Sunday night (and the standing ovation following Corigliano’s “Tarantella”), the public seems to hold modern art music in higher esteem than Mr. Doolittle.
I would welcome any of Doolittle’s comments or criticisms of the compositions or performances … now that music has been performed. However, I doubt he even attended the concert, as his expert opinions on modern music seem to allow him to judge pieces before he’s heard them.
Disservice by Doolittle
Bill Doolittle’s forward review of the U of L Grawemeyer concert featuring modern works not only was a disservice to the performing ensembles, who’d yet to make their case, but to contemporary music and specifically John Corigliano. Including a statement like “concertgoers should be aware that the music is modern and sometimes challenging” prejudices the listener before they’ve had a chance to decide for themselves. It is impossible to deny that Doolittle’s intent was to somehow apologize for the music, which is unfair, and not in the least bit “eccentric.”
John Corigliano’s gripping Symphony No. 1, a work dealing with personal grief and pain during the beginning of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s and ’90s, is challenging because of the subject matter revealed through a score filled with anguish, joy, anger and frustration. To take his “advice” and “find other useful things to do” during the Corigliano was disrespectful to the composer and performers.
I hope no one decided not to attend the concert because of Bill Doolittle’s belittling remarks. If so, I apologize for him and his misleading review.
Irish for Peace
With St. Patrick’s Day approaching, preparations are being made for celebrations. Largely, these measures have to do with someone making a buck. I do not begrudge those saloon-keepers who elect to put green dye in their beer, or the local Wal-Mart for selling “Kiss me, I’m Irish” buttons. However, our celebrations should be bittersweet.
The northern six counties of Ireland are still under colonial rule, with a standing alien army in their midst. The indigenous Irish Republicans have gone to extremes in bringing about a peaceful resolution to violence there with the IRA dissolving and Sinn Fein recognizing the Policing Service of Northern Ireland. This on the heels of another independent inquiry resulting in revelations of police collusion in the murders of innocent Irish Catholics. Special Ombudsman O’Loan’s report reinforces the previous investigations by former Scotland Yard head Stevens and former Canadian Supreme Court Justice Cory in accusing British military and police of complicity in numerous murders.
Why have we not invaded England and put a noose around Maggie Thatcher’s neck as we did with Hussein? Did we not deem any government that does violence to, who murders its own people as terrorist? Or is that just non-English speaking governments?
The loyalist DUP is, once again, holding up the implementation of the 1998 Good Friday Peace Accords by refusing to participate in a power-sharing government. They will continue to do so. It is apparent they intend to maintain their sectarian clout. It is also apparent the British have no intention of forcing their hand. If they will not cooperate, they should be omitted from the process.
With St. Patrick’s Day on the horizon, I wonder what I would say to the dear Paddy if he were here today. He supplanted the Pagan religion of my ancestors with Catholicism and, according to legend, drove the snakes from Ireland. I think he should know there are still snakes in the North. They wear the Union Jack on their arms.
Boy, did I make some of my friends angry a few days ago! We were talking about the ins and outs of the war in Iraq when I asked a couple of infuriating questions: What is your service experience? Are you going to volunteer?
Whenever I hear someone say we need to send troops into combat, these are the first two things I want to know. The stronger the opinion, the more I want to know this. Someone immediately pointed out the obvious. Hardly anyone has service experience nowadays. The draft was abolished more than 30 years ago, after all. That’s a good point. Besides, we know this is a free country. Anyone can talk about anything.
Actually, what I want is disclosure, not censorship. Just tell us where you’re coming from. Think of it as “truth in advertising.” This seems fair to me. What do you think?