The Music Of The Camelot Years

August 27, 2009 by  
Filed under Music

KennedysSeeing this photo of the three Kennedy brothers, Jack, Bobby, and Teddy brings music to my ears, but it`s a sad tune, Ave Maria. I came upon this extraordinary document, Music At the White House by Elise K. Kirk, which is part of the collection of the JFK Presidential Library & Museum. I am hoping you will take a few moments to read it over. As we look back on the life and achievements of Senator Edward Kennedy, we should also reflect back on the lives of his fallen brothers, who left us so long ago.

Let me just say, and in deference to the thrust of this whimsical posting, Jack Kennedy himself had an aversion to music, what with the suffering he endured from his back injury in WWII. However, the article notes that his favorite song was Greensleeves, but most of the honors of coordinating these affairs of the performing arts resided with Jacqueline Lee Bouvier.

The first and last performance at the White House was of bagpipes, entreating the president`s Irish roots; the first one was on the South Lawn on May 3, 1961 by the Air Force Pipers and the Drum and Bugle Corps. Also, I must note the Pablo Casals concert of November 13, 1961, which honored Puerto Rican Governor, Luis Munoz-Marin. This was made into a record album by Columbia with a four page booklet, and featured Mendelssohn`s Trio in D Minor, op. 49 and Schumann`s Adagio and Allegro in A-flat Major, op. 70.

This is exciting! There was “twisting in the historic East Room” one time to the groove of Lester Lanin`s orchestra. An expert, Andrew Burden, modeled the twist for Jack and he really got a kick out of this. This one I can not forget: the day before JFK`s funeral *(the same day Jack Ruby shot Lee Oswald), twenty-four drummers, with drums muffled, solemnly marched with the caisson down Pennsylvania Avenue; this is the Dead March with 100 beats per minute.

What songs do you hear when you think of the Kennedys? High Hopes, Irish Eyes, Abraham, Martin & John? I hear Hail To the Chief, that was played when I saw The President at Rice Stadium in 1962…

Has anybody here, seen my old friend John-
Can you tell me where he`s gone?
He freed a lot of people, but it seems the good, they die young
But I just looked around and he`s gone.

PBS Airs Luciano Pavarotti Documentary For Their Pledge Drive

August 17, 2009 by  
Filed under Music

pavarottiKVRU, our PBS affiliate station for Austin, showed Pavarotti: A Life In Seven Arias Saturday night as part of their pledge drive. This is a 90 minute documentary on the tenor`s miraculous career, from his early days in Modena, Italy, to his prominence in starring roles of opera houses all over the world. Some footage was presented also of the Three Tenors (Placido Domingo, Jose Carreras, and Luciano Pavarotti) in Rome singing Elvis` It`s Now Or Never in Italian. I was startled at first, until I could confirm the familiar melody.

One segment features him giving a singing lesson, and emphasizing that one must sing from deep down in their viscera, not just from the throat. It has been said that he was at his best in the bel canto style, or giving an emphasis to the upper registry. Thus, Puccini works such as La Boheme, Tosca, and Madam Butterfly were good fits for Pavarotti. I have the double CD, Pavorotti`s Greatest Hits on Decca; my favorites are La Donna e Mobile from Verdi`s Rigoletto and Schubert`s Ave Maria, that will surely bring tears to your eyes.

Who is your favorite of the Three Tenors? Do you believe Pavarotti drifted too far away from traditional opera, in the latter part of his career?

*Be sure to read her article and listen to Judyth Piazza`s interview with Floyd Mc Feely of Super Geek League on! Sounds like an interesting and fun band. I will definitely check them out!