March 11th, 2020 to me, felt a lot September 11th. Thousands of people didn’t die in one fell swoop, but it was when Coronavirus shifted from concern to cancellation. What once seemed far away was at our doorstep. A grim reaper coming that would rack up a worldwide death toll two orders of magnitude greater than September 11th.
As trivial as it sounds, WGI was cancelled on March 11th. With units traveling to Ohio from several countries (including Japan) and all over the US, it made sense to cancel it. Should we all be sitting in close quarters in a poorly ventilated arena? Probably not. Sites like is it canceled yet? had been tracking canceled events, and this was just another notch on the bedpost.
Maybe I could still enjoy some local live music? I had tickets for the orchestra that Friday, March 13th. It was to be canceled too, but not entirely. The orchestra would play – without a hall audience, and they would broadcast it on Minnesota Public Radio. The repertoire? Shostakovich’s 7th – The Leningrad Symphony.
I tuned into the broadcast and sat in darkness to soak in the sounds. You can listen to the historic live broadcast on the MPR site.Continue reading
Music is one of those things that gives people hope that there will be better days, no matter how bad things get. Shostakovich’s 7th was no stranger to tough times, having been both composed and premiered under dire circumstances.
Connection to Drum Corps
My love of classical music was reinforced through my 4 years marching in the Phantom Regiment Drum & Bugle Corps. I loved playing music that was new (to me), then researching a composer’s other works. I relished finding great recordings, which would further fuel my curiosity.
The obvious connection from Shostakovich’s 7th to my corps, is their 2002 program entitled Heroic Sketches – but long before that program ever took the field, I heard a piece that begged to be performed by a strong hornline. One that wound up being a cornerstone of 2002 show…
Back in the day…
The 1996 Phantom Regiment show Defiant Heart opened with a different piece by Shostakovich called the 4th Ballet Suite. As always, I would find recordings of the music we were playing to hear the original, and to hopefully hear something new.
I bought a recording of the Scottish National Orchestra conducted by Neeme Jarvi on the Chandos Label. It also included Symphony No. 10 – boy was I in for a surprise. I had never heard that Symphony, let alone the second movement Allegro, and it is a thrilling performance.
One of my favorite things about classical compact disc recordings (if they’re included) is the liner notes. Sometimes they have a history of the composer and the piece, and I would often use that as a basis for more research, or just to simply help paint a picture of what the music was about. From this CD the liner notes read:
The second part, the scherzo, is a musical portrait of Stalin
And here is the Phantom Regiment hornline playing an excerpt during their finals warm-up in 2002:
Symphony No. 7
That same 2002 program closes out with Shostakovich’s 7th. While researching that piece in 2020 during quarantine, I came across this recording which is stupendous.
I don’t have the CD liner notes to reference, but the comments on the YouTube video are worth reading. This one is my favorite of the bunch. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I choose to believe it is.
The story goes, Leonard Bernstein was in failing health and he knew he was never going to stand in front of the Chicago Symphony ever again. Apparently there has been a long standing tradition of never encouraging the brass section of the CSO; not even looking at them or else they’ll blow you off the stage. During the end of this concert, and being a helpless romantic himself, good ol’ Lenny not only looked at the Chicago Brass, but he asked for everything they had. And the rest is history!
With all the other news of the global Coronavirus pandemic, police killings, and riots, I want to take a moment to make sure a important local story doesn’t get lost.
It was recently brought to my attention that Duron Jr. has died. This apparently happened at the end of April, but I just found about it last week. This young man was only in the 5th grade when he was struck by an SUV while crossing 61st from Fridley Middle School to the Fridley Community Center.Continue reading
Next the city took down the (useless) plastic fences and erected bollards on the road to keep cars from passing each other on the shoulder.
I wondered how long they’d be there, and I now know Fridley has bollards as one of the tools in its toolboxes for testing changes without doing anything permanent.
Then throughout 2019 the city took action to apply more treatment to the 61st. Ave. They added a median with a pedestrian refuge to give pedestrians a little more priority at the intersection.
There is now a marked bike lane on both shoulders as parking was never allowed there previously. And there’s double white-striped paint to reinforce that passing is not allowed.
61st is a city-owned street. No county or state policies or politics stand in the way of making the street safe for everyone. I’m glad they took what was relatively swift action for a government agency.
But why do we wait until someone is struck by a vehicle – so severely that they risk death – to take action?
As car-loving Americans, we tend to have this have our cake and eat it too mentality when it comes to roads. Do we want safety? Yeah, sure, but dammit I’ll bitch to the mayor if I had to wait a minute longer in my car while dropping my kid off at school.
We cannot continue to prioritize throughput of vehicles over anyone’s life. This should go for all streets, not just this one. We don’t have to bankrupt the city while fixing it. As we fix it, it will make the city more prosperous.
This last part is an unknown – I don’t know what the answer is right now, but I intend to find out. Sadly almost all of our government agencies, from city to federal, aren’t set up to proactively address problems in our built environment until somebody dies.
Will the crash that ended Duron’s life be recorded as a fatality? He sustained his injuries for over two years. But undoubtedly he would still be a thriving young student if he wasn’t struck that day.
Until we find out, if you can, please give to Duron’s funeral fund.
Most of the chatter about this video is positive, but the first and last comments in this screenshot are what I want to talk about:
I get mad when I hear things like “just what we need – another class” or that something is too juvenile for them to have fun. No matter how you cut it, RC racing at its core is toy cars. Yes they’re expensive, configurable, luxury toy cars. But they’re still toy cars as much as a $400 magnesium yo-yo is still a skill toy.
Let’s look at the reality and see if can’t all get along or at least agree to disagree without starting a flame-warContinue reading