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Amazing Grace

The recipients of the 2009 Kennedy Center Honors were announced this morning. Among them is Grace Bumbry, the mezzo-soprano-turned-soprano who in a long career brought such memorable dramatic intensity to roles ranging from Wagner's Venus (she was the first black singer at Bayreuth) to Verdi's Lady Macbeth to Puccini's Tosca (which she sang at the Met at James Levine's first performance in the house). Salut, Grace.

It's a good year for music; other honorees include Dave Brubeck and Bruce Springsteen, as well as Robert De Niro and Mel Brooks. Last year's honors, of course, didn't include any classical musicians at all.

By Anne Midgette  |  September 9, 2009; 10:46 AM ET
Categories:  news , opera  
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“Last year's honors, of course, didn't include any classical musicians at all.”
(Anne Midgette, music critic, the Washington Post)

I don’t understand your use here of the words “of course.”

The Kennedy Center Honors program has included classical musicians in every year since the awards started in 1978; except for 1996, 2005, and 2008 (1999 is borderline). In 2007, the Center even recognized an outstanding Washington regional area classical musician – pianist, conductor, and educator Leon Fleisher.

Of course, I don’t recall the elite editorial page of the Washington Post raising any much needed cultural red flags when the elite Board of Directors of the John F. Kennedy Center voted to award the prestigious – originally, national -- awards to Elton John in 2004, Andrew Lloyd Webber in 2006, and Pete Townshend & Roger Daltrey of The Who in 2008.

According to the award web-site, the mission of the Kennedy Center Honors has been to “uphold a tradition of recognizing the lifelong accomplishments and extraordinary talents of our nations' most-prestigious artists.”

Of course it is.

Posted by: snaketime1 | September 14, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Touché, snaketime: I've noticed that I'm tending to overuse "of course" these days. What I meant by it here, specifically referring to the 2008 awards, was something along the lines of "as my readers are well aware, since I heard from a number of them who were quite upset by this fact."

Posted by: MidgetteA | September 14, 2009 11:42 PM | Report abuse

Thank you. I hope that the Washington Post will resume its proper cultural role, abdicated a generation ago, of speaking truth to the rich and famous Washington, D.C. cultural establishment.

You don't see Alex Ross and Joshua Kosman abdicating their critical responsibilities, do you?

Posted by: snaketime1 | September 15, 2009 7:27 AM | Report abuse

I trust you'll let me know if you see me failing to speak my mind.

Posted by: MidgetteA | September 16, 2009 12:29 AM | Report abuse

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