Conductor Michael Tilson Thomas has written an essay on the music of New England composer Carl Ruggles. You may not know Ruggles’ work, there being so little of it and such infrequent performance, but you should.
The essence of Ruggles’ music consists, according to Thomas, of three feelings, which I quote here:
- rage–the rage of the mortal part of man screaming at the universe and cursing his finitude
- exultancy–the mind and spirit of man reaching out, the universe comprehending it and merging with it
- longing and sorrow–for all the great beauty that is lost in life and in the world; for all that is corruptible, for all that has passed away.
Each one of these feelings resonates within me. Ooops, sorry for that sonic reference.
“A few figs from thistles…”
by Howard A. Tabor
Music hath charms…
Last Saturday night may have been a landmark in Agincourt history. It certainly was for me.
On a per capita basis, Agincourt does pretty well in both the quality and quantity of cultural events. Saturday was no exception, particularly in the realm of music. For sheer small-C catholicity, you could choose among “He-She & the Screamers” (who last played the Yellow Brick Roadhouse almost two years ago in August 2010); “Mumford & Sons” at The Auditorium; our own jazz group, the “Muskrat Ramblers”; and the Upstart Quartet, a string ensemble from St. Louis. What’s a body to do?
None of these could be tivo-ed—the salvation of our digital age—so I was torn in more ways than a Medieval heretic. I missed He-She when they were here in 2010—the first trans-sexual grunge band to play these parts—and played to a rave review by my pop culture guru Jeremiah Johnson. So they were a high priority. But Mumford & Sons are unlikely to pass this way again.
Our chief of police Lara McGilvray plays a mean clarinet, which temporarily raised the Muskrat Ramblers to the top of my list. Chief McGilvray isn’t a regular with them, so their Saturday night performance might never be heard again. That’s the very nature of jazz, however, so I considered the newly-formed Upstart Quartet—new kids on the cultural block and renowned for programming contemporary works, like Saturday’s premier of “Axiomatic” by Kieth Carman. Weekend opportunities like these aren’t as regular as one might like, but they happen often enough to raise smalltown life above the ordinary.
So, culture vultures take note: there is a new cultural events calendar at The Daily Plantagenet website.
Howard’s a music freak, I suppose. He didn’t tell you about The Archers baseball game—Agincourt Archers versus the Wichita Wingnuts, a grudge match from a humiliating defeat last year in the playoffs—or the antique show at the Farmers’ Market or a half dozen other activities that could have punctuated the end of his week.
His point is simple: Towns can be small and so can minds. But don’t assume the latter only lives in the former.