The journal of a Kentucky culture vulture
Some people may have looked at today’s Opinions | Ideas section of the Herald-Leader and thought it was a bad morning for the arts, and the Lexington Philharmonic in particular. The Sunday letters to the editor devoted a section to six letters about Fourth of July activities, three complaining that the Lexington Philharmonic’s patriotic concert on July 3rd was not patriotic enough.
The concert also happened to be Scott Terrell’s debut conducting the orchestra since being named its music director in April.
“Abandoning old favorites like Battle Hymn of the Republic, 1812 Overture and God Bless America, Terrell chose to include selections like Mission Impossible,” Lindy Karns of Lexington wrote. “There are an insufficient number of opportunities to listen to the performance of songs that make us proud to be Americans.”
Listening to the concert, I wondered if there would be people that found it lacking in patriotic anthems that we so commonly associate with the Fourth of July, and even thought some Broadway tunes such as, say, America from West Side Story — which I saw performed by the Broadway revival cast on NBC’s Fourth celebration — or selections from The Music Man might have gone over better than My Fair Lady and Chicago.
But I also saw the point that we as Americans should be proud that our country has produced original art forms such as musical theater and movie music and given the world classic composers such as Lerner and Loewe and Henry Mancini.
We often cede classical music to Europeans, ignoring great American composers such as Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein and others. I liked that Terrell included John Williams’ Olympic music, highlighting another great American talent too often written off as just a film composer, and his inclusion of Leroy Anderson, an American composer championed by Terrell’s predecessor, George Zack.
But the broader point is that I loved seeing four letters to the editor — one from Kevin C. Brown of Lexington praised the program saying Terrell, “managed to breathe new life into the traditional program” — about a concert, from relatively informed people debating the merits of the program with obvious passion.
It’s also something we’ve seen lately in comments and some letters to the editor about LexArts’ decision not to fund Actors Guild of Lexington for the next fiscal year.
I think I sometimes surprise people who call or write to complain about a story I’ve written when I invite them to write a letter to the editor. No, it is never fun to read someone complaining about you. But I love it when people take time to sit down and write about the arts. It says this is important stuff, and it is worth the time to express an opinion, even if it happens to be critical. Hey, by taking the time to criticize, you are saying, I think this can be better, and it is important to me to weigh in on it.
It can’t all be politics and UK sports, people.
And really, in this increasingly interactive world, it is more important than ever that people pipe up and show the arts are something we consider worthy of debate and comment.
So, keep those cards and letters and emails and comments coming. It’s all good.
About Rich Copley & Copious Notes
Raised by opera-loving parents in a rock ’n’ roll world, Rich Copley has parlayed his broad interests into his career writing about arts and entertainment. Since 1998, he has covered performing arts, film and faith-based popular culture for the Lexington Herald-Leader, the daily newspaper in Lexington, Ky. MORE | E-mail Rich