Famous a) widely known b) honored for achievement
Ordinary a) the regular or customary condition or course of things – usually used in the phrase out of the ordinary
Main Street b) a place or environment characterized by materialistic self-complacent provincialism.
Thanksgiving has come and gone, and I hope all of us were able to take a respite from the work we all do to spend time with family and friends and to simply relax for a few days. The next four weeks will be busy for all of us; public and private school educators, organists and choir directors, community chorus directors and all the other people that do so much in the area of bringing choral music to people all over this state.
As I was watching the news this morning (I like “Sunday Morning” with Charles Osgood on CBS). I was struck by how many times I heard the words “famous,” “ordinary,” and “main street” used to describe people. Lionel Ritchie is “famous,” you and I are “ordinary” and most of us live on Main Street in this country, as opposed to someone who is very wealthy and lives somewhere else other than main street! I have always taken a little offense at these titles, if only for the reason that I see them as demeaning to what “we” do with our lives and time, as opposed to what “they” do with their lives and time. I personally think that all of you (all of us), as choral musicians and ACDA members, are EXTRA-ordinary, should be “famous” and definitely NOT main streeters as defined by the mainstream media. Did you read the main street definition taken from the dictionary that I included at the beginning of this mail? Do you want to be thought of in this manner?
I wish the media would take more time, at the national level and the state level especially, to investigate and report on all the people that do extraordinary things; the organists that play every week in churches around our state, the choral music educators that work with our children, high school students and adults in our schools, churches and communities every day, and the musicians that play in our performances for no other reason that to assist us in our efforts to bring beauty and comfort to our singers and audiences. They ask for no recognition other than to feel that their work is appreciated, to be given the opportunity to do their best work, and to serve in a meaningful way. Indeed, what makes a person “famous?” It seems that all kids these days want to be “famous;” I suppose that we all wished that when we were kids, although it seems that the aim of our hoped for fame was more honorable and less caught up in the pop culture that seems t o permeate our lives these days. Paris Hilton is “famous,” and I can’t for the life of me figure out why? What special talents or attributes does she have (don’t answer that!), what skill set does she possess? What special contribution has she made to our society? Is her fame simply due to her inheritance, her father’s last name and the media attention that she so skillfully attracts? I can think of any number of you folks; individuals that give real hope to others through your music making; individuals that contribute to the moral and cultural fabric of your communities and this state and make significant contributions. Paris Hilton? Bah, humbug! But you, as individuals and collectively as an organization, epitomize contributors to the moral fabric of this country that deserve to be famous and viewed as extraordinary. You can STILL live on main street and be these things, by the way!
We all apparently are ordinary, and as such we live on Main Street, and yet do we contribute anything less than a Bernie Madoff? Bernie does NOT live on Main Street, although I think his accommodations these days may be a bit different than what he has been used to! I look at all the individuals that the news media choose to cover these days, and I wonder what makes these people so “special;” and certainly more news worthy that any of you! The men and women that serve in our armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan are most surely worthy of recognition, but most will be considered “ordinary” when they return to their daily lives, and with the passing of time their contributions will be forgotten by the majority of our population, and especially by the younger generation.
I look around me and see the extraordinary work that so many of you perform every day, and I wonder why more of you are not recognized in more meaningful ways than you are. Fame is not the ultimate goal for you, and I admire that in each one of you. But as I survey the incredible work that you are showcasing in the myriad performances that are available to the people in this state in the next four weeks, I wonder aloud why we cannot somehow recognize the wealth and diversity of talent that we harbor in this small state of ours. Throughout our communities, in our concert halls, in our schools and churches, in downtown’s throughout Vermont and in a variety of other locations, music lives and breaths and permeates the souls of our audiences. Flowery words indeed, but believe it and know that your worth and talent, although not measured by the same standards as other professions, is recognized and appreciated and equally important. Bless you all…………