The next day was Latina-influenced. A Spanish-speaking friend took me to a doctor's office, then at lunch at a Mexican restaurant the waitress translated a word into Spanish for me and, while I sat in that environment, I thought of 'America' (with its Latin beat) from 'West Side Story'. And at the telephone office so I could buy data, one employees is named Maria, so of course I started singing, 'I just met a girl named Maria', also a song from 'West Side Story'. I encouraged her, as now you, to hear the version of that song and a medley of other songs from the same musical sung by the Three Tenors (Jose Carreras, Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti) at their first concert, in Rome. Domingo is from Mexico and sings English without an accent. Carreras is from Spain and Pavarotti is from italy and they have an accent in English, I think. I use the DVD from this concert for different purposes in teaching: 1) Voice production; 2) the melodies of some songs to which I and other people have written sacred lyrics; 3) music appreciation--if you can't appreciate these voices and the songs they sing in this concert, you're musically a barbarian.
My issue is not with people who have never heard the highest and beest music, read the highest and best books, seen the highest and best paintings, or heard and seen the highest and best drama. Rather, my issue is the the people who do not think, ‘Why is this considered the best book/painting/music/whatever, or among the best, the human race has produced?’ and instead push it aside without interest in preference for what his or her own present culture prefers, a passing fad. That person lacks depth, has rejected a higher and better life of taste, has rejected the best of civlization and has therefore chose, at least relatively, its opposite—barbarism. This is not subjectivity: for instance, the Chinese and Japanese have their own cultural folk music, but many of them have seen that, objectively, Western classical music is a higher art form, and so they have given themselves, in the driven dedication for excellence many of them exhibit in their educational pursuits, to be the best in the highest of musical art. For instance, who is the most famous cellist in the world today? Yo-Yo Ma. And there are outstanding Asian violinists and pianists in Western classical music. They know it’s the best music and have determined to be the best at it.
Some said the best song from ‘West Side Story’ is ‘Somewhere’, and was practicing to sing it for ‘The Voice’. I replied that I would practice for the Voice, but I’m afraid the judges would get apoplexy and heart attacks and be overcome through their own uproar of laughter and the whole concept of someone with my singing voice actually competing, and so, to prevent being charged with manslaughter and public endangerment, I refrain.
Another friend asked if owning the vinyl LP of ‘West Side Story’ conducted by Bernstein, the composer, would disqualify her from the ranks of barbarism, but of course we know she is as cultured as a yogurt or petri dish, as civilized as any civilian because she knows a Bernstein from a beer stein, a Bach from a rock, a Mozart from muzak, a Verdi from a verity.
As yet another friend said, we need to place the bar higher because everything being too commonplace causes dreariness and discouragement and makes life seem to lack purpose.
True, that. Life is short. We can’t read, hear and see EVERYthing, so we select the best in achievement. Every era has much accomplishment, and some of it rises to join the classics. If some has been neglected and hasn’t had a showing (e.g. Emily Dickinson) during the author/composer/painter’s lifetime, then, when the work comes to light, it needs to be shown so that it can be evaluated against the rest. Herman Melville’s Mody Dick was not accepted as a classic at first, but later was. Even Shakespeare’s work went through a time when it was relatively lower profile (say, during the later 1600s and early 1700s). So one era’s evaluation isn’t final, but art which has been subjected to this scrutiny by artists of later ages has a chance to gain their respect and become classic art.
A friend named Maria tells us she has a CD of Placido Domingo singing ‘Maria’, which she takes personally, and to heart. When I ask if that means we can sing, ‘Ave Maria’ to her, she says, ‘not quite’. One is romantic and she can close her eyes and imagine the tenor is singing to her, but she’s not egotistical enough to appropriate to self to reverence in ‘Ave Maria’.