Mt. Vernon Register-News

CNHI Special Projects

January 4, 2013

Inaugural music: It's nice, but it's not a concert

(Continued)

And the attempt to use art as a symbol can often backfire. Works of art are hard to cubbyhole into pat, marketing-style categories; even the "Adagio for Strings," which was originally inspired by Virgil's "Georgics," is somewhat subversive when played as a work of mourning. And a work of art that is intended merely to stand for something arguably lacks the force or content of a work created from an expressive vision. Visual artists from Rodchenko to Warhol, Lichtenstein to Koons have played around with the art-as-symbol trope, but it's been rarer in composition; Shostakovich is the only composer who comes immediately to mind, and playing his music at an inauguration would be the supreme act of expressive ambiguity.

But it's open to question just how much force these symbols have in any case. One long-standing quasi-tradition, observed at many though not all inaugurations in the past 50-odd years, is the presence of an African American female vocalist to perform either the national anthem or another appropriately patriotic opus: Marian Anderson, Leontyne Price, Jessye Norman, Denyce Graves, Ethel Ennis and, finally, at Obama's first inauguration, Aretha Franklin. Inaugurations are apparently one of the few areas of public life in which women of color enjoy an overwhelming majority. It's not clear exactly what this symbolizes, either, though one thing is certain: Aretha, like Yo-Yo Ma, may have felt her musicmaking was affected by the cold weather, but she and her hat turned in a wonderful performance.

Text Only
CNHI Special Projects
  • Does Twitter need a censor?

    Twitter decided last year to make images more prominent on its site. Now, the social network is finding itself caught between being an open forum and patrolling for inappropriate content.

    August 21, 2014

  • sleepchart.jpg America’s sleep-deprived cities

    Americans might run on sleep, but those living in the country's largest cities don't appear to run on much.

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Africa goes medieval in its fight against Ebola

    As the Ebola epidemic claims new victims at an ever-increasing rate, African governments in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia have instituted a "cordon sanitaire," deploying troops to forcibly isolate the inhabitants in an area containing most of the cases.

    August 18, 2014

  • Democrat? Republican? There's an app for that

    If you're a Republican, you might want to think twice before buying Lipton Iced Tea, and forget about Starbucks coffee. If you're a Democrat, put down that Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, and throw away the cylinder of Quaker Oats in your pantry.

    August 18, 2014

  • Five myths about presidential vacations

    In the nuclear age, presidents may have only minutes to make a decision that could affect the entire world. They don't so much leave the White House as they take a miniature version of it with them wherever they go.

    August 15, 2014

  • weightloss.jpg The scales of injustice: Weight loss differs between men, women

    You're not imagining it: There really are differences between the way men and women diet, lose weight and respond to exercise.

    August 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Drug dealers going corporate

    A top federal official on Tuesday said that 105 banks and credit unions are doing business with legal marijuana sellers, suggesting that federal rules giving financial institutions the go-ahead to provide services to dealers are starting to work.

    August 13, 2014

  • wwimemorial.jpg The benefit of World War I omission on the Washington Mall

    By 1982, when the Vietnam Veterans Memorial opened on the National Mall, something had shifted in the way we remember our wars. A national memorial, prominently placed on the nation's most symbolically significant public space, came to seem like an essential dignity offered to veterans, their families and the memory of those who gave their lives. But there is an exception.

    August 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • In Japan, ramen aficionados worry their favorite dish is coming off the boil

    "The ramen boom has ended," said Ivan Orkin, a New Yorker who first traveled to Japan in the 1980s and now owns two noodle-soup restaurants in Tokyo. "A boom implies that there are new avenues and new growth to pursue, and that's not the case in Japan anymore."

    August 11, 2014

  • Ronnie Ellis: U.S. Senate race trail long and interesting

    By Ronnie Ellis/CNHI News Service

    FRANKFORT — Last week was a long one, endured under the onslaught of an awful summer cold and played out across the commonwealth. It began in Fancy Farm and ended it in Corbin with a trip to Hazard in between.

    August 9, 2014

Twitter Updates
Facebook
Stocks