NPR is clueless (again)

I swerve between anger and terror whenever I heard the mainstream media cover our business; anger due to just how wrong they usually are and terror when I consider how wrong they must therefor be about all the stuff they cover I don’t know anything about.

The latest example to fuel my rage comes from a frequent offender, National Public Radio. On Friday, NPR’s flagship news show All Things Considered had an 8-minute segment on Mark O’Conner’s Americana Symphony, which began:

Mark O’Connor says he’s created an orchestral language from the seedling of Americana.

OK, I thought to myself, “a new orchestral language” would be interesting, especially if avoids replicating the mountains of music mined from the vein of Americana created by Copland, Schuman, Sessions, Ives, Harris, Cowell and others.

Imagine my surprise when it turns out that this “new orchestral language” is essentially a pastiche of Copland and Lord of the Dance. So I kept listening for discussion of the historical context of this “new language” and some mention of the folks that actually invented the “American sound.” There was none, of course. But I did discover another old source for the new language:

One of the most visual sections of the symphony is the fifth movement, “Soaring Eagle, Setting Sun,” which depicts the climbing of the mountain face of the Rockies.

“The entire movement is one large crescendo that lasts six or seven minutes, that starts very low, in the basses where it’s barely audible,” O’Connor says. “And as the heavy footsteps climb that mountain, the music describes the elation once you’re at the peak and you can actually see the setting sun.”

Lord of the Dance, Copland, and Richard Strauss. Can’t beat that.


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