Tom Minter's Off The Stoop Blog

a playwright's journey, creating, connecting, and conversing.

opening doors

with 2 comments

..as I stood in the shade of the tree line, trying not to puddle in the 95 degree heat and humidity of this past Saturday, I watched something incredible..

I have always been an advocate of ‘opening doors’ –of finding ways to engage a mind that might not normally be aware or available to some connection of music that I know and love. I don’t ever want to foist this on anyone.. But as I was introduced to the world of music by loving and adventurous souls, I am always pressed to do so as well..

But this Saturday I watched a young man from the Duke Ellington School of the Arts perform a short piano program of Beethoven, Rachmaninoff, and jazz improvisation.

This same young man is a composer, and had contributed music to a work that was being created by the Duke Ellington School, under the keen eyes of the composer Anthony Davis, called When God Made Lonely. It is an operatic updating of Porgy & Bess.

..how many times –I thought, as I watched-  had someone opened the door, leading us here..?

Classical composition for African Americans is not a hot elective! Generally classical music is considered an ‘elite’ art form –and opera –well.. something even more archaic and ‘white’.

..but doors opened in the minds of many before this instant in time, and once opened, allowed a whole train of passion to connect with words and music and inform another generation of musicians and music lovers..

There was a story I heard, and have little reason to doubt: the Austrian conductor, Erich Leinsdorf, believed in voices. If a voice could work the magic of the music, then it would be the voice he would choose.

In the 60’s Leinsdorf was contracted to RCA; they had committed to doing a Verdi opera series under his direction and had a particular compliment of cast in mind. Leinsdorf looked over their choices, and demurred, firmly. Eventually RCA was… brought, to defer to the maestro’s choices in singers.

This occurred over the casting in the recording of Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera. The cast which the maestro desired were comprised of the three greatest African American voices of the era: Leontyne Price, Shirley Verrett and Reri Grist.

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It remains a classic, and incomparable example of craft.

…does it matter who opens the door..? Personally, I don’t think so.

As my grandmother used to say to my father when he was a young man:

…you sit by that door, and wait for it to open.. And when it does, you be ready to walk through..

Each of us have a hand on the handle to a door that opens onto some landscape we love; each of us, can open that door to others.. and show what makes inside so wonderful..

Each of us are advocates, and can impact anyone waiting outside our door..

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2 Responses

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  1. keep door opening, Tom, as only you can!
    Susan

    Susan

    July 6, 2010 at 3:00 PM

  2. Inspirational even before coffee! lbb

    lori

    June 26, 2010 at 7:00 AM


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