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Arts in the White House: critics' helpful suggestions

In Sunday's Washington Post, the Post's critics suggest ways the White House might effectively promote the arts. Here are my thoughts on how the Obama White House could support the cause of classical music in America.

By Anne Midgette  |  April 24, 2010; 10:43 AM ET
Categories:  Washington  
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Comments

Loved everyone of your suggestions.

MIDGETTE 2012!

Posted by: ianw2 | April 24, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

How strange. Did you delete my earlier comment?

Posted by: Lutoslawski | April 25, 2010 7:38 AM | Report abuse

Lutoslawski: You made your comment on the article itself, rather than on the blog (I know it can be confusing to have these different on-line comment sections). It shows up there just fine.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/04/23/AR2010042300047_Comments.html

And yes, my suggestion of Black Angels was slightly subversive. But it would still be really cool.

Posted by: Anne Midgette | April 25, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Good Day Anne,

Enjoyed your article in The Post today. And I agree that it would be nice if The Obama's did more to perpetuate Classical Music. On page C5 of today's paper we see The President at yet another sporting event. YAWN. He seems to show up at these games frequently. Yet, how many times in the past couple of decades have I looked up in The Kennedy Center to The Presidential Box to see strangers? I would think that the Obama's would want to expose their girls to this beautiful music. It is so good for one's development. I did like your suggestions, particularly Bolcom, Monk, Reich,Graham...

What would be if President Obama introduced John Adams when he visits us here in The Nations Capital next month?

Also wouldn't a Song of Remembrance Concert in honor of Kaczynski and the other fallen Polish dignitaries have been a nice idea? Pollini is going to be here playing Chopin soon, perhaps this could've been combined with The Paderewski Piano Concerto and a concert by Polish Jazz great Tomasz Stanko.

I would really love to see Obama at Classical Concerts. I would love a President to strongly support The Arts. I don't really think any President has done that much for The Arts since JFK. Inscribed on the wall of The Kennedy Center you can read this:

THERE IS A CONNECTION, HARD TO EXPLAIN LOGICALLY BUT EASY TO FEEL, BETWEEN ACHIEVEMENT IN PUBLIC LIFE AND PROGRESS IN THE ARTS. THE AGE OF PERICLES WAS ALSO THE AGE OF PHIDIAS. THE AGE OF LORENZO DE MEDICI WAS ALSO THE AGE OF LEONARDO DA VINCI, THE AGE OF ELIZABETH ALSO THE AGE OF SHAKESPEARE, AND THE NEW FRONTIER FOR WHICH I CAMPAIGN IN PUBLIC LIFE, CAN ALSO BE A NEW FRONTIER FOR AMERICAN ART.
Letter to Miss Theodate Johnson, Publisher, Musical America, September 13, 1960

I AM CERTAIN THAT AFTER THE DUST OF CENTURIES HAS PASSED OVER OUR CITIES, WE, TOO, WILL BE REMEMBERED NOT FOR VICTORIES OR DEFEATS IN BATTLE OR IN POLITICS, BUT FOR OUR CONTRIBUTION TO THE HUMAN SPIRIT.
On behalf of the National Cultural Center which would come to bear his name November 29, 1962

TO FURTHER THE APPRECIATION OF CULTURE AMONG ALL THE PEOPLE. TO INCREASE RESPECT FOR THE CREATIVE INDIVIDUAL, TO WIDEN PARTICIPATION BY ALL THE PROCESSES AND FULFILLMENTS OF ART — THIS IS ONE OF THE FASCINATING CHALLENGES OF THESE DAYS.
"The Arts in America,” Look, December 18, 1962

THIS COUNTRY CANNOT AFFORD TO BE MATERIALLY RICH AND SPIRITUALLY POOR.
State of the Union Message, January 14, 1963

I LOOK FORWARD TO AN AMERICA WHICH WILL REWARD ACHIEVEMENT IN THE ARTS AS WE REWARD ACHIEVEMENT IN BUSINESS OR STATECRAFT. I LOOK FORWARD TO AN AMERICA WHICH WILL STEADILY RAISE THE STANDARDS OF ARTISTIC ACCOMPLISHMENT AND WHICH WILL STEADILY ENLARGE CULTURAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR ALL OF OUR CITIZENS. AND I LOOK FORWARD TO AN AMERICA WHICH COMMANDS RESPECT THROUGHOUT THE WORLD NOT ONLY FOR ITS STRENGTH BUT FOR ITS CIVILIZATION AS WELL.
At Amherst College, October 26, 1963

I LOOK FORWARD TO AN AMERICA WHICH WILL NOT BE AFRAID OF GRACE AND BEAUTY.
At Amherst College, October 26, 1963

Is anybody listening?

All the best,

David Engel
http://www.globalaroundtown.blogspot.com

Posted by: davidengel58 | April 25, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

PS - A couple additional concert ideas could include works by:

Lowell Liebermann - his Piano Concertos or Six Pieces from Album for the Young.

And

How about some of the beautiful works by Peter Lieberson?

Best,

David
http://www.globalaroundtown.blogspot.com

Posted by: davidengel58 | April 25, 2010 1:28 PM | Report abuse

David, you are aware, are you not, that the National Symphony Orchestra has commissioned a new work based upon these and similar writings by [for] JFK from Peter Lieberson, for performance at the John F. Kennedy Memorial Center for the Performing Arts next January 2011 in commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy.

Given Mr Lieberson's recent own battle with cancer (from which, as you probably know, his wife Lorraine Hunt Lieberson struggled for years and died), I believe that this commission is for narrator and orchestra, as opposed to for vocal soloist or chorus and orchestra. I support your call for additional performances of Peter Lieberson's beautiful works. Perhaps he can be a composer-in-residence with the NSO following John Adams, health permitting.

Perhaps President Barack and First Lady Michelle Obama, and JFK's daughter Caroline Kennedy, can share the narrator duties over the three evenings of the performance of this new classical work next January 22-24, 2010 -- Saturday through Monday. That would assure a full house -- I believe.

Posted by: snaketime1 | April 26, 2010 9:34 AM | Report abuse

As always, a wonderful article by Anne Midgette. To clarify, in mid-2009, I had sent a personal letter to the Obama 'Think Tank' through certain contacts prior to his election as President of the United States. In it, I proposed short 'Fireside Chats and Concerts' akin to the radio days of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Only now, is this idea sprouting forward amongst bloggers and readers alike. Re DavidEngel58--nice ideas. Are you aware of Lowell Liebermann's 'Third' Piano Concerto? He wrote it for me in 2006, and it is by all standards, a powerhouse concerto--one to reach the standard literature amongst pianists very soon, to be sure. Regarding the photo of William Bolcom in this article, Mr. Bolcom's next major work for piano, orchestra and chorus, [composed for me], is to be premiered in November of this year. It is sure to make a bold statement about our world and our destiny. Stay tuned...

Posted by: JBiegel | April 27, 2010 10:45 PM | Report abuse

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