Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Magnificent Mozart!

The Three Altos: Pamela Beyersdorf, Anne Anderson, and Patricia Freed

I'll admit it -- I'd never heard the Mozart Requiem before about two months ago.

But when Eckerd College sent an open invitation to alums and others to sing the work as part of the chorus, I was among their first responders. After singing Faure's Requiem, thanks to former Aldersgate UMC choir director Angel Vazquez-Ramos, and after singing Hadyn's Missa Brevis, thanks to Jacksonville State (Ala.) University's Calhoun County Civic Chorale director Dr. Patricia Corbin, I didn't want to miss the opportunity! Also, thanks to both directors, I had the confidence to make the attempt.

Dr. Marion Smith, choral director at Eckerd, arranged the concert, which included selections from Mozart's opera Cosi Fan Tutte, as the finale to Eckerd's 50th anniversary celebration.

Soloists included professional opera singers and Eckerd alums Antonia Brown, Anna Tonna, and Chris Pedro Trakas, as well as Gregory Roman and Lothar Bergeest.

Our accompanists? Members of the Florida Orchestra!

I couldn't hog all this fun to myself, so I asked friends and fellow altos Pam Beyersdorf and Pat Freed if they'd like to sing, too.

Turned out Pat had sung the Requiem in high school -- and still remembered it! Which was a very good thing as it was full of 16th note runs and syncopated entrances and all sorts of tongue-twisting Latin.

It was also magnificent. Look for a recording, if you haven't heard it.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Signs of the (newspaper) times . . .

The Tampa Tribune reports that, after 40 years of weekly publication, the St. Petersburg edition of The Florida Catholic is changing to an online news service. Six times a year TFC will mail a free magazine, to be called Gathered, to every registered Catholic family in the diocese. The article was not clear whether TFC would continue a print edition serving the rest of its multi-diocese circulation area.

Unfortunately, TFC's last front page and Bishop Lynch's comments both make it sound as though TFC is gone for good. Only in the sixth paragraph does Lynch add the words "as we have known it."

If journalism is to survive as a profession and as an industry, we MUST recognize the difference between "dead and gone," "gone for good," and "in transition." The more we use deadening words, the harder the transition to new, living forms.

BTW, the Tampa Tribune announced 18 more newsroom job cuts including a columnist and editorial editor.

And locally, the Tropical Breeze, Safety Harbor's monthly newspaper, stopped publishing a print edition with its October, 2008, issue.

Monday, November 10, 2008

"As long as the Arctic stays cold"

Movie trivia time.

Anyone out there remember what movie ended with the line above?

The year was 1958 and movie studios had discovered that horror movies made money. So Valley Forge Films, needing to fill the coffers for other, more esoteric films produced by its parent company, Good News Productions -- although IMDB (Internet Movie Database) lists the film company as Fairway Productions -- came up with this screamer.

Burt Bacharach and Ralph Carmichael each contributed to the music. The lead actor opted to take a $3,000 flat fee instead of $150 + 10% -- and the film ended up grossing millions.

In 2008, the film was nominated for TV Land's Best Movie to Watch at the Drive-In award.

And a new book, The Family: the Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power by Jeff Sharlet, called a journalist because he is a contributor to several magazines, including Harper's and Rolling Stone, and creator of a couple of blogs purporting to monitor "America's secret theocrats," suggests that this movie was a fundamentalist Christian group's deliberate attempt to sway public sentiment by making the monster a metaphor for Communism.

There may be, however, just one or two tiny problems having to do with accuracy.

Rudy Nelson, associate professor of English at the University of Albany and "Third Assistant Director in Charge of Daily Script Revision" on the film in question, explores the discrepancies in Sharlet's article in his own article . . . but to put the name of Nelson's article here would give away the title of the movie.

Before I do that, here's what Sharlet emailed Nelson after Nelson emailed Sharlet with what Nelson says was a "low-intensity (and good-natured, I hope) correction of the misinformation, not really expecting a reply."

Nelson says Sharlet "thanks me for my message, offers apologies if he's misunderstood [the movie], and then goes on to point out, with several apt illustrations, that art can take on meanings not intended by its creators."

This is true to a point. As a dramatist and writer of fiction, I'm sometimes startled by what actors/readers take from my work.

But to charge intent is different from art taking on "meanings not intended by its creators."

I wouldn't think Sharlet can have it both ways.

Ah well. Read the articles for yourself. You decide. That's what a free, unbiased press is all about, right?

The actor? Steve McQueen.

The movie? The Blob.

Nelson's article? "The Blob and I" in the most recent issue of Books and Culture, published by Christianity Today.

The last line of the movie? Let's not even go there. At least not in this entry.

Note dated December 17, 2008: Corrected grammar in paragraph six.