By Ray Stern
By Ray Stern
By New Times
By Amy Silverman
By Stephen Lemons
By Stephen Lemons
By Monica Alonzo
By Chris Parker
Kudos to New Times and to Michael Kiefer for his well-researched article about the travails of the Phoenix Symphony ("Is Anybody Listening?", June 5). Kenneth La Fave, Arizona Republic columnist, alerted the reading public with his statement that New Times usually pays as much attention to the classical arts as vegetarians pay to roast pork. Kiefer's piece was well-done. No pun intended!
I am an avid reader of New Times, and this latest entry into the realm of good taste is an indication that the paper recognizes that the finer elements of art and music raise man from the level of Neanderthal man.
The paper's former obsession with rock and country styles of entertainment seemed to exclude those highbrows who have the good fortune of being educated in the noble works of Bach and Beethoven.
Hurrah! For New Times, it has finally acknowledged that Phoenix is not just a cow town. We have one of the best symphony orchestras in the country, and we also can provide a good musical venue for those unfortunates who can't understand anything more complicated than a basic I IV V chord and a steady drum beat.
Michael Kiefer does an excellent job of analyzing the Phoenix Symphony. As Kiefer suggests, other symphonies also have serious problems, many from the same underlying cause.
For 100 years, American symphonies have usually excluded many of the most creative and brilliant American composers and musicians. The symphonic world considered their music--jazz--to be disreputable. After all, jazz began in the whorehouse district of New Orleans, not in the courts of Europe. Fans had to escape symphony halls to hear Louis Armstrong hit notes higher than classical trumpeters thought the trumpet could play. Symphony halls also neglected Jelly Roll Morton, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Charles Mingus and Thelonious Monk--all musical geniuses. Orchestras ignored the saxophone, a spectacular instrument developed almost entirely by jazz and blues musicians. The very names of jazz greats King Oliver, Count Basie and Duke Ellington mock the aristocratic pretensions of American symphonies.
With almost no subsidies or corporate donations, jazz became America's classical music. Still, jazz is rarely heard in orchestral halls, except in watered-down pop versions. Doc Severinsen may appear, but why not Sonny Rollins, the world's greatest saxophonist?
For decades, American symphonies ignored other American music as well, turning their concert halls into the Church of Old Europe. Listeners were invited to worship the Top 40 sacred relics. No tiny coughs or shuffling feet were allowed: The relics demanded rapt silence. They still do.
With extremely few exceptions (Ives, Copland, Gershwin), American composers of any stripe have rarely had work played regularly in classical programs. How many decades or centuries do orchestras expect multicultural America to revere a European repertoire that, however magnificent, is almost entirely 100 years old or more?
Symphonies will eventually discover that Phoenix, Denver, New York, Chicago and L.A. are located in the U.S., not Europe. Then they will mix great American and European music on every program.
For Whom Bell Tolls
In his article/comic strip "Cartoonist Cop" (June 5), Bob Boze Bell ridiculed the comic-strip Steve Benson cop for thinking his "Mormon underwear" would obviate his need to wear a Kevlar vest. Had Benson had Jewish roots, and had the yarmulke or philacteries been the target of ridicule, Bell would have been considered to have made an anti-Semitic remark. While Bell was trying to be funny, he has made a distasteful comment about a religious group which, after much suffering and persecution, has become identified with consistent adherence to moral principles, strong families, educational advancement . . . qualities which are, sadly, in decline today in broader society.
Hot damn! Bob Boze Bell back in New Times! It's a natural--two unique Arizona natives back together again. I have enjoyed and followed Bell since the days of "Doper Roper" comics lo those many years ago. I hope that he becomes a regular feature, once again, in New Times. Between Bob Boze Bell and the liposuction ads, New Times gives me all the infotainment that I need! Heifer dust forever!
The Blame Game
When I was in nursing school, I knew I couldn't ever work pediatrics, as it wasn't just one child-abuse case a day, it was several ("Hard Life, Hard Death," Paul Rubin, May 29). At this point, blame doesn't help, but Amber Bass' mom, Linda Rhea, must bear the majority of the blame. Nancy and Lee Hughes' excuses, and Rhea's excuses are pathetic. I hope the surviving children can overcome what terrible memories they must have. The poem written by Tascha Boychuk was poignant.
I am blessed and privileged to work at Wilson Elementary School District with dedicated, caring people, including volunteers and parents, who have made a difference in the lives of the children ("Little Drummer Boy," Terry Greene Sterling, May 1). Wilson programs provide a personal computer for every student, peer tutoring, free breakfast and lunch, a free medical clinic for uninsured families, extensive counseling and social-work programs, and complete music electronic keyboard labs.
For the past six years, Wilson has provided new Christmas presents for kindergarten through third graders from corporate sponsors and parties, and trips to the movies and dances for fourth through eighth graders. Wilson has a foundation that raises money and procures scholarships for graduating students so they may attend college. Wilson also has girls' volleyball, softball, girls' and boys' basketball, cheerleading, Mexican folklorico dancing, student council, band, chorus, family math, ESL classes, adult literacy, a high-tech lab and Internet classes.
Even with all these programs, Dr. Jane Juliano added one more when she hired Keith Ballard with his steel drums. Ballard claims he really wants to help inner-city kids, but the people who honestly do help and care about these children are the unsung heroes who have put aside pettiness and maintained their professionalism and focus on this community.