Tuesday, December 13, 2011

KK had her winter choir concert tonight, arts high school, some beautiful voices, some fun arrangements, fun to see her with Matthew, both of them so happy in new romance. I enjoyed meeting Matthew's parents, singers who met in the university choir, Longhorn Singers and, before they had kids, performed in our town's hillside summer musicals. They seem like good people and have a very polite and talented son who KK believes hung the moon. The feeling seems quite mutual.

Controversy about the concert contents affected our family. The issues of separation of church and state, how much it is OK for religious songs to be in school concerts stirred strong feelings. Is it OK for a public school choir to sing a Mozart Requiem Mass, sing religious Christmas or Hannukah songs, sing a blessing at the end of a concert? . Is something like "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" unacceptable in songs because it presumes the existance of a personified devil?

Bob looked up rulings on the internet and found the legal opinion that schools can sing religious holiday songs if they intersperse them in the same concert with secular holiday songs. I don't quite get this, because I don't understand the secular holiday idea very well, but i do enjoy the music, religious and secular. I like that the young singers are being trained to sing classics like the Mozart Requiem and would be sad if those couldn't be sung in the public schools. I feel the same way about spirituals and gospel music. It seems like the kids should be taught about them, just as about other classic genres in music tradition. Perhaps they could be presented in concerts with more "this is an example of..." wording so that it would be clear that the kids were not required to believe or promote what they were singing.

In an increasingly diverse community, and with a concern about extremists pusing their own brand of religion in the schools I intellectually believe strongly in the separation of church and state - but I do feel like removing all the songs from different religious traditions would weaken the texture of the music performed. I'd like to hear songs from more diverse traditions, Hindu, Buddhist, tribal traditions, earth based teligions, Islamic music, not just Christian with a smattering of Jewish. But I understand that we still predominantly come from a western, monotheistic, JudeoChristian tradition.

The blessing the kids sang at the end of the concert was beautiful. I loved being blessed. For me blessing is powerful and holy, a real prayer that moves energy, not just a saying or singing of words, so it does seem inappropriate in a public school setting. on one level that's sad to me. I can use all the blessings I can get, and feel the world can too. But separation of church and state is a core principle in our Constitution and I think being a little legalistic about it is necessary.

I feel sad that the controversy , which is real and importand, clouded my enjoyment and pure delight in KK in her choir dress, hair jewelry, stage makeup applied by Matt's performer mother, reveling in a performance oppoertunity with friends. It must feel wonderful to be able to make music in a group like that, with all the harmony and complex parts. I'm a little in awe, especially of the selected top choir, First Edition. I never could sing and am astonished by people who can and do with such beauty and passion.

Life is so complex, so AND. Sometimes I wish it were simple. However, with news of two sudden deaths in my acquaintance community last night, the death of a five year old twin last week from extremely aggressive leukemia (he was fine as far as anyone knew, got sick over the weekend and was dead by Tuesday) and worrying cancer developments with Joe and Heidi, I'm thankful for every moment of life, confusing and paradoxical or not. If you're reading this, please take a moment to express honest affection or gratitude to someone (and this does include pets) who you cherish.


Mary said...

Reading here, Victoria. Just always happy to read your updates. Somehow for some odd reason I thought you were with Joanna and family. I don't know where I got that. Young love is, sigh, young love. Sorry about the cancer developments and also the deaths. A child's death is particularly sad. Blessings to you and all.

Bob H said...

I strongly believe in separation of church and state and dislike hypocrisy. Singing a song as a member of a choir in a public concert and singing words I don't believe has never felt hypocritical to me. I feel that I am conveying the author's (composer's) beliefs to an audience, not my own.

Western music has developed out of Christian culture but is now neutrally religious and worldwide. However, most of the examples of great choral music have Christian words, and most of the others - 20th century works - are probably too difficult for high school choirs, even an outstanding one.