Saturday, February 02, 2008

Brown Out by Anthony McCarthy

While I’m trying to get back the piece lost to a power outage or to reconstruct it, you might like to read Derrick Z. Jackson on the effect John Edwards had on the Democratic race and why the issues he raised matter.

From that point, the strands of Edwards's populism dissipated into relative Democratic bliss. It was refreshing that Obama and Clinton toned everything down in a race where acrimony was burning bridges to the voters. But the compliments to Edwards are more complicated than the pleasantries.

If, as the stereotypes of this campaign go, Obama represents transformative hope and Clinton represents international Rolodex Day One experience, Edwards significantly tapped into a critical segment of Democratic voters who smoldered with how the world's richest nation fell so far behind on healthcare and its standard of living and lurched into an unnecessary war whose tragedies will haunt us for decades.

You might also want to read about Craig Smith’s memorial service. He was the founder and artistic director of Emmanuel Music before his sudden death last November.

The large crowd heard reminiscences of the early days, when Smith showed up as a red-cheeked 22-year-old from Idaho with an overwhelming passion for Bach, to the point that he would seek out numbers of the cantatas in the license plates of passing cars. The compensation for musicians was little more than Sara Lee coffee cakes; the parts on their stands were little more than cut-up photocopies of a score.

But the cantatas came together so well that, very early on, Smith had the outlandish idea of performing the entire cycle of Bach cantatas, something that had never been done before, let alone by a modest church-based ensemble. Since then, Emmanuel has traversed the full cycle not once but twice. His vision and conviction drew into the church's orbit dozens of young and idealistic musicians whose talents he nurtured, among them the baritone Sanford Sylvan and the late Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, who arrived at Emmanuel as a violist. Sylvan spoke movingly on Thursday night, wondering whether, without Smith's inspired leadership, "Lorraine would have put her viola away forever" in order to pursue what became a celebrated vocal career. Sylvan also wondered: "Would Peter Sellars ever have staged an opera without puppets in it?"