This morning as I was staring into space, I was thinking about the recent performance of Williams' arrangement of "Air and Simple Gifts" played by Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma, Anthony McGill, and Gabriella Montero for the US Presidential inauguration of Barack Obama. I was wondering if anyone else was vaguely thinking that one of the reasons McGill was there was because he is black in that quartet of 3 white people and one black one. (Don't get me wrong. I really liked McGill's playing!! It's just that he's not particularly famous the way that Perlman and Ma are.) And then I went on with my mindless thoughts (Duh...) and thought, "Well... Perlman is Jewish...". And then suddenly, as I was thinking about the fact that Montero is a woman so that might be covering another minority, it came to me that Ma is Chinese! I can't wait for the time when I don't notice the colour of people's skin at all or worry about tokenism, and just concentrate on the music.
Before I was afflicted by ridiculous thoughts though, I just listened and simply loved the playing (just a little annoyed that they performed OUTDOORS when it was below freezing - what a precedent to set!! Imagine the dumb October brides out there who will think it will be perfectly okay to have their string-quartet-accompanied ceremonies outside, not realizing that there must have been some formidable heaters in the musicians' area in Washington, even though they weren't visible to us).
One of the things I really love about Perlman's playing is that his violin and bow seem like extensions of his hands.
The performance is on YouTube:
If you can't stand the visual distortion, here's another:
When I was searching around, I saw a note that people who watched the inauguration ceremonies on BBC didn't get to hear the quartet because some moronic announcer was TALKING while they played. How cretinous is that?! It reminds me of the end of the Saki short story when Clovis and his aunt are talking and the story ends with the introduction of a new character who interrupts Clovis to tell him to shut up; they're TRYING to listen to the opera....
Firefox is telling me that "Barack Obama" is misspelled and suggests "[Ba rack barrack bareback Barabbas Backtrack] [Obadiah Obadias Bamako Alabama]" as other options. I wonder if the next version of Firefox will automatically revise the dictionaries to allow that "Barack Obama" is correct.
("Itzhak Perlman" is also a misspelling and the suggestion is "Ithaca [Perelman Perl Man Permanent Permian Perla]" So are "McGill" and "Montero". There is no suggestion for correcting "McGill" but "Montenegro Monterrey Monteverdi Montezuma" are suggested for "Montero")
The (probably) tokenistic mix of the players doesn't sound very subtle.
I'm not so sure that the mix of players was due to tokenism. Ma and Perlman aren't unlikely choices for such an occasion (even if it had been McCain who had been inaugurated instead of Obama.) . Williams scored the thing for piano and clarinet so they had to choose two other players. I don't know the names of famous American classical pianists - and who knows, maybe in spite of the occasion, it was hard to find someone to agree to play outdoors in subzero weather. The same goes for big time solo clarinetists. Choosing the principal clarinetist of the Met Opera seems logical. (But one has to wonder how many musicians were miffed that they weren't asked to perform.)David wrote: The (probably) tokenistic mix of the players doesn't sound very subtle.
Her presence didn't seem like tokenism to me either. She is a respected singer and also doesn't seem like an unlikely choice. How could they not ask someone with the title "Queen of Soul"? That's the reason I thought she was there - not because she's black but because of who she is. (Strike me down; I didn't listen to her performance - didn't know until googling that she sang "My Country 'tis of thee".)Mats wrote:It is still important to use symbols in public affairs. Aretha was there to sing but also there to send a powerful symbolic message.
"soul" music = music sung by blacks
I didn't know that. I thought anyone was allowed to sing "soul" music. (I do agree that "soul" music was first sung by blacks though.)Mats wrote:"soul" music = music sung by blacks
It looks like you're not the first. Look what comes up after googling Aretha Franklin:Mats wrote:I just made that title up when I posted.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aretha_FranklinWikipedia wrote: Aretha Louise Franklin (born March 25, 1942) is an American singer, songwriter and pianist commonly referred to as "The Queen of Soul"
And take a look at the title on the Aretha Franklin website
Normally I would, but I just wasn't prepared to hear "My Country, 'Tis Of Thee", not to mention that I have a very short attention span. It was all I could do to listen to Obama's speech and the Williams' arrangement.Mats wrote:Who would not listen to Aretha??
Aha!!! I'm glad they came clean!Mats wrote:It was too cold to play wooden instruments so what we heard was recorded in advance.
http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2009/01/2 ... ation.html
And maybe that's the answer for brides when they ask for outdoor service when it's far too cold. "Sure no problem, we'll record it a few days early and mime it on the day" and then mention that of course it will cost extra for the recording time and speaker set up.
I could see that the quartet had been prerecorded. But it wasn't being mimed -- it just wasn't amplified. This is absolutely routine for big outdoor events. It couldn't feasibly be done any other way. If you hear a big choir or orchestra at the olympics etc. it's prerecorded. But the choir is singing not miming. Soloists may be able to sing, but even they may often be prerecorded. But they aren't miming, either.ejm wrote:Aha!!! I'm glad they came clean!Mats wrote:It was too cold to play wooden instruments so what we heard was recorded in advance.
http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2009/01/2 ... ation.html