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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Feb. 1, 2013/ 21 Shevat, 5773

High Culture Belongs at Inaugurations

By Mona Charen




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | In the days since the second Obama inauguration, I've been thinking about Kelly Clarkson and Beyonce. No, not the great lip-synching controversy, but the choice of popular entertainment for a solemn national rite.

That Beyonce apparently lip-synched her beautiful rendition of the national anthem is a triviality. It's cold on the steps of the Capitol and even the greatest singer might have trouble sounding good in those conditions. Kelly Clarkson apparently sang live (and perhaps paid a price in quality). Four years ago, at Obama's first inauguration, a quartet consisting of Yo-Yo Ma, Yitzhak Perlman, Gabriela Montero and Anthony McGill (it sounds as if they were chosen by a diversity committee, but they're all great classical musicians) also used a recording and only pretended to play their instruments in the January chill. String instruments get out of tune quickly in cold, dry weather. You can tune up a cello just before playing it, but it isn't practical to do that with a piano.

It's not live versus taped that's important. It's high culture versus pop culture. The presence of classical musicians lent the first inauguration a certain majesty. What do pop musicians contribute? With all due respect to Clarkson and Beyonce, they are creatures of the vast pop music behemoth churning out tunes that are with us perpetually — on the radio, of course, but also in shopping malls and in movies and even in elevators. Pop music is the soundtrack of ordinary life — which is fitting, because pop music itself is ordinary.

So fine, let the pop stars shine at the Super Bowl and at NASCAR races. There's a time and place for pop. Whitney Houston's rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner" at the 1991 Super Bowl can still bring tears to my eyes.

Classical music, on the other hand, is both a symbol and an example of the higher things. It's not often easy, and it's not always accessible — which is one of the reasons it's respected. Previous presidents have chosen opera stars to sing at their inaugurations. John F. Kennedy asked Marian Anderson to sing the national anthem. He was also the first president to ask a poet, Robert Frost, to read his work. Jimmy Carter invited soprano Frederica von Stade. Ronald Reagan asked Jessye Norman (who accepted though she disagreed with his policies). Denyce Graves sang at George W. Bush's second inauguration. Even Bill Clinton, who styled himself a bubba from the sticks, had the sense to ask Marilyn Horne to perform at his first inauguration. Jessye Norman did a return engagement for Clinton's second.

Mr. Obama chose two pop stars and a dreadful poet (see Andrew Ferguson's exegesis in the Weekly Standard). Beyonce was appropriately dressed for the occasion. But who could fail to picture her as she usually appears when performing?

An inauguration should be august. Obama's second was pedestrian. It seemed to suggest, through it's undistinguished music, leaden rhetoric and shallow poetry, that to aim high was some sort of offense against the democratic (or Democratic?) spirit.

That is the very opposite of the truth. We've lost a great deal of the cultural ambition that characterized America in the post-war 20th century. That was a time when Leonard Bernstein was a fixture on television, offering "young people's concerts" that weren't just for the young. It was a time when Mortimer Adler sold millions of copies of the Encyclopedia Britannica's Great Books compendium to the vast American middle class. Newly economically secure Americans were hungry to sample the best that had been thought and written and eager to expand their musical horizons. Publishers coined the term "middle brow" for this audience and perhaps intended it derisively. But it was a sign of national growth and confidence, not weakness.

This was before the multicultural assault. Accordingly, anyone from any background felt that the great works of Western civilization were their inheritance, too.

When I entered college, I didn't feel "alienated" by reading Plato because I wasn't Greek, nor excluded from the works of Shakespeare because I wasn't male, nor particularly appreciative of Herman Melville because I was American. The intellectual straightjacket of race, class, gender was still in the future.

The American spirit at its best aims high — and not just for the few, but for everyone. A presidential inauguration is a ceremony that ratifies our beliefs and reminds us of what is best. As such, it should be celebrated with high art, not American Idol.

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