I attended the final concert of my Philadelphia Orchestra subscription series on Sunday afternoon. Happily, the program had been changed from a Bruckner symphony (he’s all right but not one of my favorites) to the Beethoven Ninth Symphony (which really is one of my top favorites).
The performance was terrific, I can’t say enough about how well the orchestra played and how well the chorus and soloists sang. When Ryan Speedo Green, the bass-baritone, began the recitative in the final movement, the sound was absolutely magnificent. Remember that name as I think you’ll be hearing more from him.
The concert was preceded by a mini awards ceremony to honor several employees (orchestra members and others) who were retiring after years of loyal service. And Davyd Booth (he of the second violin section and keyboards) was given a special award to reward his many years with the orchestra, since 1973 if I recall correctly. Happily, Davyd is not retiring yet.
Just before starting the Beethoven, Yannick picked up a microphone and lamented the 30 people who had been victims of gun violence in “our city” (as he called Philadelphia) over the past week, five of whom had died.
He said something along the lines of “we don’t need any more false prayers”, which got a round of applause. He finished his piece and then put down the microphone and picked up his baton.
The phrase “false prayers” has stuck with me, partly because I’m not entirely sure what Yannick meant by it (I mean, aren’t all prayers false by definition because they are addressing an imaginary deity?), but also because in the days since then I’ve seen a lot of politicians (Republicans, of course) who are claiming that the school shootings are the result of prayer being removed from the schools.
What a load of bullshit! In other words, this god that they worship is such a fucking piece of shit that it is punishing school children for not praying in school rather than the people responsible for prayer being removed from schools. You know, atheists like me.
OK, I guess I need to end with a pleasanter image.