Sunday, September 21, 2008
Shakespeare one day, Vivaldi the next!
Hi again! I tried to publish this blog back in September regarding the financial crisis we are in, but lost ii somewhere in cyberspace. I just found it! So here it is, a little late but still a good take on how I view life.
Life can be pretty good sometimes. There are those serendipitous days that come along now and then to remind you of what is good about this place. Last week was pretty crazy in the global financial markets, and September 2008 is coming to be known at Black Sempember. Pretty ominous sounding. And it is a fun time to be teaching AP Economics! But let's put a little perspective to Black September for just a minute or two.
Between 1590 and 1613 in London, William Shakespeare was writing, producing, and perhaps acting in the greatest plays in human history. Watching a Shakespeare play back then was to watch yourself, watch the world, at its best and its worst, its humorless and its profoundly funny, its bawdy and its sacred. It was real. And William Shakespeare, after these four centuries, is still doing the same thing. Last Friday, at the end of a dark week, I went to Davis High School's Advanced Theatre Night of Shakespeare -- monologues, scenes, and the ensemble piece that in the end sent Black September flying, reminded me that recovery is on the way, more Black Septembers will come, and that we can choose from among Shakespeare how to live. We have all the examples we could ever want of all the kids of selves we could ever be. Panics and manias galore have come and gone since Shakespeare wrote for his Globe, but he is still around. He is still around to inspire, thrill, frighten, confuse and entertain. Shakespeare lasts.
In september of 1703 Antonio Vivaldi became maestro di violino at the Ospedale della Pieta in Venice, an orphanage to shelter and educate children who were abandoned, or whose families could not care for them. The boys learned a trade while the girls (lucky girls!) received a musical education, becoming members of the Ospedale's renowned orchestra and choir. Later he spent time in Rome, and while there he wrote his famous Four Seasons featuring some of the finest violin passages in music. Returning to Venice his Ospedale orchestra celebrated the work as their signature. His girls there did him proud. Saturday night, the night after Shakespeare, my wife and I attended an orchestra recital of Vivali's famous Four Seasons played by a youth orchestra, including four young violin soloists, all no older than Vivaldi's orphans. Their playing, and Vivaldi's music, again sent Black September scurrying for the door, and awakened in me the realization that the schemes of the billionaires can't hold a candle to the sublime work of two 15th century wonders -- William Shakespeare and Antonio Vivaldi.
Give space in life to those things that are not inferno. For me, Shakespeare and Vivaldi are two of those things.