The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Lifestyle

January 5, 2013

Inaugural music: It's nice, but it's not a concert

(Continued)

Whether Obama will include music at his second inauguration, later this month, remains a matter of conjecture, but of course it's beside the point. State ceremonies at once exalt and diminish music. They offer a framework in which everyone can understand music's importance and desirability (Barber's "Adagio for Strings" at state funerals, Kiri te Kanawa singing "Let the Bright Seraphim" for Prince Charles's wedding to Lady Diana Spencer): It is there to support, embellish, illustrate or prolong the moment, or simply to offer some breathing room. But music in this context is also music at its most utilitarian: It represents art without necessarily being art. I was wrong, in 2009, to try to judge "Air and Simple Gifts" as if it were meant to be concert music; Williams, Ma and Perlman understood their assignment a lot better than I did when I first heard it.

Including music at the inauguration was an example of thinking outside the box: At past inaugurations, instrumental music had generally remained solely in the hands of the U.S. Marine Band, "The President's Own." It also turned out to be a pretty good indicator of the administration's general attitude toward the arts: at once extremely important and a little apart. Obama has emphasized the importance of the arts in education; he has hosted concerts at the White House devoted to a range of musical genres. But he is — certainly in the realm of classical music — an appreciator rather than a devotee. He very much wants to have the arts around; but for him personally — as for many, many American citizens — they are a pleasant adornment rather than an object of passion. He didn't have a favorite piece he particularly wanted played: He wanted something appropriate, and symbolic.

Text Only
Lifestyle
Photos


Poll

Do you believe America will ever make another manned flight to the moon or another planet?

Yes
No
     View Results
Facebook
AP Video
Six Indicted in StubHub Hacking Scheme Former NTSB Official: FAA Ban 'prudent' EPA Gets Hip With Kardashian Tweet Bodies of MH17 Victims Arrive in the Netherlands Biden Decries Voting Restrictions in NAACP Talk Broncos Owner Steps Down Due to Alzheimer's US, UN Push Shuttle Diplomacy in Mideast Trump: DC Hotel Will Be Among World's Best Plane Crashes in Taiwan, Dozens Feared Dead Republicans Hold a Hearing on IRS Lost Emails Raw: Mourners Gather As MH17 Bodies Transported Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-free Travel Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Disabled Veterans Memorial Nearing Completion Last Mass Lynching in U.S. Remains Unsolved Home-sharing Programs Help Seniors Ex-NYC Mayor: US Should Allow Flights to Israel
Twitter Updates
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Stocks
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Business Marquee