Tuesday, March 20, 2007

WETA-FM Flames Cultural Distrust Between Classical Music Lovers & Musician Activists By Cutting Out The Mediating Ground Of Classical American Music

"Britten and Mozart - yawn...

Overcoming poverty, domestic violence and the weight of centuries of tradition, an ensemble of women drummers from Africa is helping to re-define the perception of women in Guinea. The AMAZONES: Woman Master Drummers of Guinea will be seen and heard on SATURDAY (8:00pm), MARCH 31, 2007, at the Rosslyn Spectrum Theatre, 1611 North Kent Street, Arlington, Virginia. Turning the drum into an agent of personal transformation and social change, The Washington Post calls their joyously incandescent work “beautiful music”.

For centuries the djembe drum was played only by men, the instrument forbidden even to be touched by women. A decade ago, the AMAZONES began to push the limits of tradition, resulting in the beginnings of a social ‘awakening’ in Guinea. Initially scorned and ostracized by family members and neighbors, the women of the Amazones are now revered as role models in their homeland and their artistry celebrated internationally" ...

'dizzy' Commenting on Charles Downey "Auryn Quartet, More Mozart and Britten" at DCist March 20, 2007


Drummers from Amazones perform for eighth-graders from Waltham at Brandeis University on Friday as part of the MusicUnitesUS program.

Photo and caption credit: (c) Bear Cieri and the The Daily News Tribune. With thanks.


Blogger Danny said...

Can you elaborate on the connection between WETA and content of the post? I'm afraid I'm missing something.

10:04 PM  
Blogger Garth Trinkl said...

Danny, thanks for asking for a clarification. I realized upon publishing late yesterday that the "Cultural Distrust" post might strike some as highly elliptical.

Briefly, being pressed for time now, I am very concerned that the new Classical WETA-FM station (under the new musical direction of Jim Allison, who spent 14 years directing music at commercial WGMS which featured a very shallow playlist) will, unlike the older, more than quasi-Classical WETA-FM which existed until two years ago, and which featured NPR SymphonyCast often incorporating American classical music, Saturday afternoon American Jazz, and Saturday evening American Folk Traditions (and Sunday evening pre-Bach Western classical music), harden the perception among the young and casual listeners that Western classical music ended at about the time of the First World War, and that 'classical music' is a dead art form unworthy of consideration by younger intellectuals and aesthetic appreciators -- many of whom now, in the United States and elsewhere as well -- are of color.

The African musicians cited are contemporary performers and, I imagine some to be, also world music composers. They are representatives of the contemporary music composers whom I do not feel comfortable advocating for over at the newly reinstated Classical WETA-FM and its new blogsite.

WETA-FM, under the direction of Jim Allison from WGMS, recognizes neither that music is a living artform, nor that for approximately 250 years, the United States and the Americas, provided an experimental melting pot where Western classical music rubbed shoulders and occasionally engaged in meaningful conversations with non-Western, but highly alert and human, musics.

Over at the Classical WETA-FM blog, I am not advocating for musical activism, but only that public radio include a well-curated and well-loved American Classical Music Wing -- just like the public American museums in Boston, New York City, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco, now all have beautiful and meaningful American Classical Art Wings (as well as Modern Art Annexes, which is a separate issue and problem for public radio. One only needs to tune to public television during pledge month of March to see how many public television stations see modern musical art -- and with some exceptions needing to made for modern art programming from places such as WGBH, WNET, and KQED.)

Of course, I wish the listeners to the new Classical WETA-FM lite would also be introduced to Henry Cowell's and Roy Harris's Symphonies, Lou Harrison's Mass for Saint Anthony (whose composition started the day the Nazis invaded Poland, September 1, 1939), selections from Philip Glass's Satyagraha [to be performed by the MET Opera next year] or Christropher Rouse's new Requiem [2007; premiering in Los Angeles this weekend], or selections from John Adams's El Nino or Doctor Atomic Symphony [world premiere London this year; U.S. premiere Saint Louis Symphony, next year].

Sorry that perhaps this only begins to scratch the surface of the question you ask.

I look forward to looking at you blog later this evening. And I thank you again for posting your important question here.

PS. I look forward to reading Alex Ross's new book on Western classical music in the twentieth century which was published earlier this week.

5:58 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home