Three unrelated stories gathered from various media sources…

The ‘affluenza‘ syndrome is a new term coined by psychologists to describe a state of mind frequently found in children, including the inability to delay gratification or tolerate frustration; difficulty in maintaining interest in anything requiring effort; a false sense of entitlement; and a constant preoccupation with material goods. It is no surprise in a capitalist society with fading ethical values. Actually, affluenza is pervasive syndrome, not only among children but also in adults whose boredom and materialism is not easily entertained by anything else besides buying things. This makes for the toughest audience we have for our creative pursuits – I’ll rephrase that: the second-toughest (the toughest being our own colleagues…)

Philip Glass is back at the forefront: The San Francisco Opera commissioned and will present the world premiere of his Appomattox (sounds like a medicine but it is an American civil war drama) during the 2007-08 season. His Satygraha (which was also premiered by the San Francisco Opera in 1989) is on the Metropolitan Opera’s upcoming calendar, and in a couple of months, the English National Opera will mount a production of Satygraha as well. Glass has quite a history at the Met: Einstein on the Beach was premiered in 1976 and, according to the folklore, he had to work his cab the night of the premiere and even drove a customer to Lincoln Center; by the time The Voyage (recently released on Orange Mountain Music) was commissioned in 1992, he no longer needed to drive a cab… Last but not least, Philip Glass is up for an Academy Award again with the soundtrack to the film Notes on a Scandal.

A scientist discovered that certain male sheep (rams) display a homosexual preference. This created a somewhat-misled outrage in the media, as some thought that he was developing a ‘cure’ for homosexuality, which he promptly denied. Isn’t it time to accep the Third Gender… It also made me think back about the composer who didn’t want to be called a ‘lady composer’, a story published in S21 a couple of weeks ago. I had a somewhat similar experience: once upon a time at a French-speaking Canadian broadcast, the host called me ‘compositrice’, using a feminine form that I had never heard used before, and I was really puzzled. French isn’t all that logical when it comes to gender: why is the apple (la pomme) feminine, but the bean (le haricot) masculine? On the one hand, if the French language encouraged the widespread use of ‘compositrice’, it would also acknowledge the possibility of women being composers – and historically, besides Elizabeth-Claude Jacquet de la Guerre, there aren’t too many who are remembered. On the other hand, ‘directeur’ (director) has its feminine form, ‘directrice’, but ‘professeur’ (professor) is always masculine; and so was ‘compositeur’, up until the Canadians fixed it. Just like actresses who would rather be called ‘actors’, I tend to prefer to be called ‘compositeur’ like ‘professeur’, like a simply-composer composer – with no gender attached.

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