The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Today is Labor Day. Opera San Jose brings classical music into the workplace – can we try that here? Plus, you can take a WQXR poll about what music is best to mark the holiday | September 4, 2017

By Jacob Stockinger

Today is Labor Day (celebrated below by famed photographer Lewis Hine.).

The holiday probably won’t be celebrated in a big way by the blowhard billionaires and anti-union tycoons who run the government these days.

But workers can be and should be proud of what they do—despite the wealth gap, wage stagnation, unfair taxes, income inequality and a general lack of respect and support.

The Ear, however, has two offerings for the holiday.

The first is a story about how Opera San Jose is bringing classical music into the workplace of high technology companies like Adobe in Silicon Valley.

The opera company has started a program called “Arias in the Office” (below). And it sure sounds like a fine idea that other local groups – especially small chamber music groups – might try doing here in the Madison area.

Talk about taking music to the people if the people aren’t going to the music!

And let’s not forget that composing music, performing music and presenting music are all hard work too. So we should also celebrate the musicians, the administrative and box office staffs, the stagehands, the light and sound engineers,  the sets and costume people, and all the others who toil behind the scenes for our pleasure.

The story was reported by NPR (National Public Radio) and can be found on the radio station’s website and Deceptive Cadence blog:

http://www.npr.org/sections/deceptivecadence/2017/08/30/544164183/new-pop-up-series-treats-silicon-valley-workers-to-opera-at-the-office

The second is a listener poll, now three years old, done by the famed classical music radio station WQXR in New York City.

It is a survey of classical music that is appropriate for Labor Day and features three generous examples in YouTube videos — an opera by Giuseppe Verdi, a symphony by Franz Joseph Haydn and a film soundtrack by Virgil Thomson.

But it also has about two dozen other choices– including music by Handel, Schubert, Copland, Joan Tower, Robert Schumann, Gershwin, Shostakovich and others — for the public to select from, and a lot of comments from other respondents that you might want to check out.

Here is a link:

http://www.wqxr.org/story/poll-what-music-best-captures-spirit-labor-day/

Happy Labor Day!

And if you have another piece of music that you think is appropriate, let us know in the COMMENT section.

The Ear wants to hear.


2 Comments »

  1. John Adams’ ‘Short Ride in a Fast Machine’: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=5LoUm_r7It8

    Comment by slfiore — September 4, 2017 @ 8:00 am

    • Addendum: This is the perfect ‘theme music’ for today: Not only does the music fit the theme, but it describes the trajectory of American labor beginning with WWII. When America entered the war, existing industry retooled almost overnight and produced materials for the war effort, new military equipment was created, designed and built by labor, and new industries were created. When the war ended, industry had to re-invent itself again almost overnight, but that took longer and was less successful, as good-paying jobs were increasingly sent overseas where labor is cheap and makes no demands. Industry’s most successful post-war model was to continue to make war materials, and the Military-Industrial complex President Eisenhower had warned against has been eating trillions in tax dollars and outsourcing death and destruction ever since. Hard-working laborers have been left out of the prosperity loop since the “short ride in a fast machine” ended. A hard truth: War is very profitable.

      Comment by slfiore — September 4, 2017 @ 8:21 am


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