For those public broadcasters who always ask the question: “Is classical music dead or doomed?” in interviews before every concert they air, this commentator has a simple coherent answer: “Only if you will it!” Most Public Broadcasting execs seem privately convinced but too chicken to say, what they already believe. So they ask the question, praying someone else will intone the answer they seek. Theirs’ is a suspicion fallaciously raised, ever since ‘Classical Music’ was born. In truth, as the inimitable ‘Satchmo’ Armstrong used to put it: “There’s only two kinds of music… Good and Bad!”
So why does this commentator raise the subject, now? He hasn’t but the New York Times, on the front page of its recent February 18th edition, gave an indisputable answer to the question with a photograph that literally challenged this nation, once and for all, to lead or get out of the way! The photo shows young Venezuelan stringed instrument students, by the thousands, enrolled in that country’s training program (El Systema) putting young Americans of comparable age to shame, not only as instrumentalists but as problem solvers in other subjects, too, since only some of the Venezuelans plan to pursue professional music careers. Sixty-two years ago, two years after this commentator graduated from college on the GI Bill, researchers at a California University determined that students with backgrounds in classical arts were faster and more creative at scientific problem solving, than others. Alas, their findings did nothing to reverse the knee-jerk trend of penny-pinching budgeters, who cut funds for Arts Education, at the first sign of a sluggish economy.
El Systema’s founder, Jose` Antonio Abreu, is himself a dual-major in Music and Economics and has held high government posts in both areas. But there’s a clue that should alert near-sighted political profiteers on both sides of the American Congressional divide. El Systema is catching on in other, neighboring South American countries. The question we’ll soon have to answer is --- ‘How far back in the pack can The U.S. afford to be?’ President OBama and his administration have stated their intention to support educational stimuli at all levels, in the strongest possible terms. The skin-flint top-tierists who believe in everything for an elite few, better-than-the-rest and crumbs, for the many less-deserving, almost-but–not-quite-Americans, had better catch wise, as to just what “E PLURIBUS UNUM” MEANS. While there’s still some ‘Unum’ left to share. As to the question about whether Classical Music is still alive? The answer is : “Alive and thriving!” Not that you’d know it, via the air-waves of the good old U.S. of A.
The corporate cadre that controls just about everything we hear that’s commercially transmitted via our air-waves is mostly packaged in dumbed-down ughs and grunts and that’s how the corporate cadre intends to keep it. They’ve invested much time and money to turn commercial listeners and viewers into unthinking go-along ughers and grunters. It’s the prototype they count on for political pacivity. “El Systema Profita,” one might say… especially one who’s been verbally reflexed to chant: “We’re Numero Uno!”… without having to prove, that it’s true.
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