Friday, June 22, 2012

Not your Grandfather's String Quartet.  

Brooklyn Rider is a thoroughly 21st century "downtown" group that will be making its debut at the Caramoor Festival north of New York City in the lush countryside of Katonah and Bedford in Westchester County.  Located on an old estate of baronial splendor, Caramoor had always been a bastion of the classic 19th century repertory in opera, symphonic and chamber music.

A new music director has, however, decreed that "contemporary" is not a four letter word.  New works and new musicians are flooding into Caramoor's programs and will continue to do so even though the new director was almost physically accosted last summer by a furious audience member who informed him in no uncertain terms that a piece by Elliot Carter had "RUINED the program" that was otherwise made up of works by Schubert, et al.  Perhaps not coincidentally, attendance at Caramoor has increased since the change in programing went into effect, after several years of slow decline.  

The Vatican: Catholic Official Blames Media and Devil for a Scandal

A senior Vatican official on Monday blamed the media — and the devil — for fueling the scandal over the butler who leaked Vatican documents. The Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, told the Italian Catholic weekly Famiglia Cristiana that journalists reporting on the scandal were “pretending to be Dan Brown,” an author who has written novels about power struggles inside the Roman Catholic Church. “The truth is that there’s a will to create division that comes from the devil,” Cardinal Bertone said.

As usual from that source, everybody's to blame but them.   Interestingly, I came across this fascinating dedicatory page from one of the Quaker books I'm helping to catalog:
"This work, a revelation of the Borgias, is dedicated to Archbishop Hughes as a token of ETERNAL ENMITY! with the hope that it will be instrumental in awakening Americans to their duty, and in forming a bulwark of defense against Foreign and Papal aggression around the rights of all Protestant Americans."

This from a normally tolerant, pacifistic Quaker!  I looked up Archbishop Hughes and found an immigrant child from Ireland who was educated in the Philadelphia area and entered the priesthood, rising in the ranks until he was named Bishop of New York City in 1842, and Archbishop when the Diocese was upgraded in 1850.  This assignment placed him on the receiving end of the great flood of Irish immigration resulting from the catastrophic failure of the Irish potato crop in 1845.

Desperate for food, shelter and jobs, the Irish poured out of any hulk that could reasonably expect to make it across the Atlantic and settled along the East Coast, most notably in Boston but also New York where riots and persecution awaited them.  Hughes managed just barely to save the old St. Patrick's Cathedral on Mulberry Street from mobs that wanted to burn it by marshaling 'round the clock defense by thousands of Irish guards until that particularly bad persecution blew itself out.  Given the huge spike in the Irish Catholic population of New York, Hughes planned and began construction of the current St. Patrick's Cathedral on Fifth Avenue in 1858.

So far, so good.  But Hughes had a dark side that manifested itself in efforts to persecute other minorities -- and he strongly opposed the abolition of slavery.  From Wikipedia:  "In 1850 he delivered an address entitled "The Decline of Protestantism and Its Causes," in which he announced as the ambition of Roman Catholicism 'to convert all Pagan nations, and all Protestant nations . . . Our mission [is] to convert the world—including the inhabitants of the United States—the people of the cities, and the people of the country . . . the Legislatures, the Senate, the Cabinet, the President, and all!'"  The Quaker book's dedicatory page is dated 1854, and makes total sense in light of Hughes' militantly aggressive statement four years previously.

Ironically, Old St. Patrick's still stands on Mulberry street in lower Manhattan.   At the end of its second century, its site declares that it looks forward proudly to serving a neighborhood that, in the decades following the death of Hughes in 1864, saw settlement by Jews, Italians, and Chinese -- none of whom would have gotten much respect from Archbishop Hughes.*

*I base this statement on my Catholic school education by Irish Catholic nuns.  They announced that Italian Catholics were too emotional, nowhere near strict enough, and should be avoided.  Given that those were the days when the Papacy was firmly in Italian hands, you have to wonder.  And given that I identify strongly with my Italian heritage on my father's side, you can probably think your way through to my  reaction.


Excerpt from an absolutely delightful article by Amy Copperman on the site Devine Caroline:

"And the experience taught me a few valuable lessons. The most important being that it’s a helluva lot easier to get a date with a fireman (if you’re into that sort of thing) than I originally thought. I mean, it’s not like they’re hard to spot: They ride around in huge, red trucks with blaring sirens. And at any given time of day or night, manly, fit, capable men are hanging out in clearly marked stations all around the city, waiting for someone to injure themselves or light something on fire. So basically you know where these men are at all times, which makes picking one up way easier than going to a bar. Plus, there’s a fair amount of downtime at the firehouse. In between saving lives, they just kind of hang out, watch TV, play pool, and apparently cook elaborate feasts and do chores all together like taller, studlier versions of the seven dwarfs. It’s awesome!"




And finally, for all my musician friends:

I liked the last joke the best.
I too like the musical humor....esp knowing that non-musical people won't get am I NOT in a sort of "exclusive" club finally? A life long goal? ***NICE today to do a little catching up on your blog.
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