The Arts’ Lease on Life

by Sedgwick Clark

Nearly three years ago, December 6, 2009, President Barack Obama said these inspiring words at the Kennedy Center Honors presentation:

“In times of war and sacrifice, the arts — and these artists — remind us to sing and to laugh and to live. In times of plenty, they challenge our conscience and implore us to remember the least among us. In moments of division or doubt, they compel us to see the common values that we share; the ideals to which we aspire, even if we sometimes fall short. In days of hardship, they renew our hope that brighter days are still ahead. So let’s never forget that art strengthens America. And that’s why we’re making sure that America strengthens its arts. It’s why we’re reenergizing the National Endowment of the Arts. That’s why we’re helping to sustain jobs in arts communities across the country. It’s why we’re supporting arts education in our schools, and why Michelle and I have hosted students here at the White House to experience the best of American poetry and music.”

Yesterday, President Obama was reelected to a second term. He defeated a man who had looked directly into the camera at the first presidential debate and said that despite the fact that he loved Sesame Street‘s Big Bird, he would withdraw all government funds from PBS. Sesame Street is out of my viewing slot, but I was well aware of what that threat meant. I can’t imagine that there were not millions of other voting arts lovers who were not similarly offended.

Looking Forward

My week’s scheduled concerts:

11/7 Carnegie Hall. Midori, violin; Özgür Aydin, piano. Beethoven: Sonatas Nos. 2, 6, and 9 (“Kreutzer”). Webern: Four Pieces, Op. 7. Crumb: Four Nocturnes (Nightmusic II).

11/13 Carnegie Hall. Cleveland Orchestra/Franz Welser-Möst; Michael Sachs and Jack Sutte, trumpets. Beethoven: Symphony No. 4; Grosse Fuge, Op. 133. Matthias Pintscher: Chute d’étoiles for Two Trumpets and Orchestra. Scriabin: The Poem of Ecstasy.

11/14 Juilliard School. Peter Jay Sharp Theater. Juilliard Orchestra/Alan Gilbert; vocalists. Mozart: Così fan tutte.

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