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ISSUE 119 VOL 15 PUBLISHED 3/24/2006

Letter to the Editor

By Letter to the Editor
Contributing Writer

Friday, March 24, 2006

I was surprised and disappointed by Joe Mignano’s review “Orchestra concert disappoints” in last week’s issue. I am not an orchestra member, but I came to St. Olaf because I was impressed by the orchestra’s (and by extension, the music department’s) repertoire. I have left every orchestra concert captivated by the ensemble’s musical and technical integrity, and the March 12 concert was no different. As usual, I felt that the orchestra members demonstrated intense virtuosity in every piece.

Mignano’s article revealed an emerging snobbery among the musically trained. The concert announcement on the St. Olaf website invited Northfielders to enjoy an afternoon focused on orchestral works that entertain children. Does making music accessible to the non-music major crowd warrant the attack of being called “crowd-pleasing fluff”?

Outside of St. Olaf (and even at St. Olaf), most people do not care about “polymetrical and hocketed layered ostinati.” They want something they can understand and relate to. Conducter Steven Amundson’s explanations of “Petrouchka” and other pieces were not a distraction to someone who, like me, has not taken music history, but they gave concertgoers something to listen for and a story to follow.

Art is not bad simply because it is designed to captivate an audience of untrained ears. No wonder people are not clamoring to get in on the music conversation – they are pushed away by elitist musicians arguing that the common listeners’ needs are frivolous.

– Catherine Wing ‘06

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