Culture Magazine

Christina Aguilera, Microwaved Peeps, & KC NATS

By Pinkall @pinkall
"Spreading the gospel of tacky ignorance", as the Baltimore Sun describes, Christina Aguilera has officially vaulted herself into the stratospheric realm of social-faux-pas-dom crowned and seated next to fellow eloquent royalty: Rosanne Barr, Michael Bolton, Jesse McCartney, Carl Lewis, and the girl who slipped on the ice for her horrid rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner.



Technically her voice...well, I should not comment on her voice.  And, I wouldn't know where to begin.  But with that being said, she is first an entertainer, and not an "artist" so I will attack this from the entertainment angle.
YOU MESSED UP THE WORDS!
More than the obvious embarrassment of singing "What so proudly we watched at the twilight's last reaming" when she should have sang "O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming", was that it should completely embarrass a nation of patriots that we ask singers like this to perform our National Anthem at public events in this crazy and perverted style.  And like every year, I am left wondering why it cannot be sung militaristic and formal like every other nation prides itself in. 
Before I get off my high horse, I have to give some criticism to several newspapers, who have the audacity to put blame away from Christina Aguilera.  The Christian Science Monitor is obviously ignorant of music tactfulness.  They tried to tackle "Why she flubbed it" in an article that came out this morning.  They blamed it on that she "tried way too hard" and that "the lyrics are among the most difficult things any performer ever has to sing".  ARE YOU KIDDING!?  This is a piece of cake.  Perhaps the range is challenging, but it is English, and any singer has probably sang this hundreds or thousands of times.  Just blame it on her.  She forgot the words, and she sounded crazy.  That's what the Christian Science Monitor SHOULD have reported.
And then, there's the Washington Post.  Oh my...in an article this morning called "Christina Aguilera didn't botch the national anthem. Francis Scott Key did" they once again blamed it on the lyrics and went further, stating how embarrassing the lyrics are to begin with and that they were even worse than Liechtenstein's when they said,  "It is, frankly, worse than Liechtenstein's national anthem. And until 1963, Liechtenstein's anthem included lyrics about 'the German fatherland' and standing 'on guard for Germany.'"  And oddly enough, the article doesn't even mention the most obvious oddity of the national anthem in that the poem is actually two questions. "O! say does that star-spangeled banner yet wave, O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?" The article is massively disgraceful in my opinion and an intellectual black hole.
Thankfully, we can all look to Saturday Night Live to put us in our proper place.  They can make light of the most embarrassing aspects of our society.  I wonder how they would handle this?
(Climbing off my horse) Yesterday, I competed in the Kansas City NATS competition and didn't place.  Oh yes, back to humility.  Actually, I have learned very much the hard way to not expect to win these things, just to try my best.  In a way, I wish voice competitions were like sports and had legitimate avenues toward victory, but honestly it comes down to if the judges like the voice.  I felt I did well, and I had no big regrets, but I am glad that I had the opportunity and now it is on to the next thing.
Opera is in high gear, and I am enjoying finally getting to interact with the other singers.  The music is fun (which is something rare with Mozart - for me at least) and it has not been overbearing yet.  Unfortunately because of the huge snow storm that went through, I was not able to have my coaching with former Met Conductor George Darden, but I was able to meet with and watch a masterclass with (and this is directed to all the choir nerds out there) Simon Carrington who is a choir director formerly at Yale and famously from one of the world's most famous choirs, The King's Singers.  And starting last week, the teachers with the Kansas City Vocal Institute have been traveling to area high schools giving free voice lessons to children.  I have had so much fun creating the Institute and all that has come with it.  What incredible people and teachers, I am so proud.
I also have an addition to my performance schedule as I will be the tenor soloist for a production of Haydn's Lord Nelson Mass on Saturday, March 5 at 7 PM at the Community of Christ Peace Temple in Independence, MO in a community concert made up of the Conservatory choirs and several high school choirs.  It should be very fun because it of the size of it all.  I love these kinds of performances!
I also mentioned last week about John Adam's opera, Nixon in China.  Well, the Metropolitan Opera in New York is performing Nixon in China on Saturday and it is being broadcast live all over the world in movie theaters.  This is a very significant masterpiece in music history and I encourage all the music lovers out there to treat yourself to the best of modern music.
Nixon in China is considered one of the most important masterpieces of Minimalism.  Minimalism is a type of music that developed from the Art world like many other music genres did.  In minimalism, the music slowly transforms over a period of time.  Many times, the composer will take a small three or four (sometimes less) note motif and slowly put layers of sound on top, repeating and adding to the texture.  Over time, the piece slowly transforms, almost hypnotically.  Most importantly, it is not random, like many other 20th century pieces, so it will make sense to your ear, and isn't just noise or math.  To put it in food terms, it is like microwaving a marshmallow peep.  At first it's a small pink marshmallow and by the end it turns into some enormous non-defined shape of gooey melted marshmallow.  It is still the same marshmallow, it has just transformed into something completely different.  But as you can guess, Nixon in China is about President Nixon's visit to the country.  Intrigued?....Don't miss it if a theater is playing it near you.
Finally, this week's Incredible and Artistic Kansan is Charlie Parker, one of the most influential jazz musicians of all time.  If you live in Kansas, help keep public arts funding and contact your legislator today.  If you do not live in the Sunflower State, please take time and attend a concert or visit a museum and appreciate the artistic culture of where you live.  It is our human legacy for where we have been and where we are today.
UPCOMING SCHEDULE
  • Conservatory Singers Concert of Bach Cantata No. 4 "Christ lag in Todesbanden" and the World Premiere of An American Requiem by William Averitt - 2/22
  • Kansas City Lyric Opera Auditions - 2/26
  • Tenor Soloist - Lord Nelson Mass by Haydn - Operation Breakthrough Benefit Concert at the Community of Christ Temple in Independence (where Jan Kraybill is the Principal Musician - she's one of my favorite people in the whole world) - 3/5
  • Don Giovanni - Conservatory Opera - 3/17-20
  • Wichita Symphony Orchestra Naftzger Young Artist Auditions - 4/2-3
  • Conservatory Finale  - Poulenc Gloria (probably on my top 10 favorite pieces ever) featuring the Conservatory Choirs and Orchestra - 4/23
  • Administrative Director of the 33rd Annual Summer Choral Institute - 6/5-11
  • Sugar Creek Opera Festival (Chicago) - role: tba, opera: Daughter of the Regiment, maybe Little Women as well - 7/20-8/7
  • Kansas City Symphony Chorus Auditions - tba

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