Meeting in Review: December 16, 2015
Posted by Mike Carmichael
President-Elect Candidate Abe Helal opened the meeting at 12:30 PM, led us in the Pledge of Allegiance, and introduced Scott Love to provide the words of inspiration.
Scott read a passage from a book he wrote, telling of his visit to a hospice with a Montessori school next door. The loud noise of children playing seemed inappropriate for those facing life’s end. Then he noticed the hospice windows open, and some doors, and residents actually sitting outside. Sounds of noisy children were therapeutic for them. As leaders we need to take time to find what motivates and is meaningful to people.
Secretary Mike Carmichael welcomed visiting Rotarians and guests:
Host or Home Club
**pending information to be supplied by the club office**
Sergeant-at-Arms Ken Kimbrough recognized the two Rotarians celebrating birthdays this week:
**pending information to be supplied by the club office**
Shaun English repeated his invitation to Rotarians to contribute to the club’s own Foundation, ideally in the amount of $100 or more, and hopefully by January 31. Those contributing $350 or more will receive special recognition as members of the President's Club. However, the most important goal is for every member of the club to give something, even if it is just $5.
Immediate Past President Jennifer Hara, as chair of the club’s nominating committee, pointed out that Abe Helal is leading today’s meeting as the committee’s nominee for President-Elect, to serve in 2017-2018. The election for that position and for members of the club’s Board of Directors, and for the Foundation’s Board will begin right after lunch and continue to the end of December. Everyone should have an opportunity to vote on-line and should receive an email today from Election Buddy. If you don’t see it, check your Junk mail and then contact acting Executive Director Monica Conroy. Materials about candidates are also on-line.
Abe reminded members that the Community Service Grant Applications are now open, through January 31. We should ask Chair Lynn Holec for more information. The application and instructions are available on the home page of our website. We should encourage nonprofits that you know that do work in the District of Columbia to apply! Proposals for 2016 grants must be received by January 31, 2016.
Raven Canty gave her new member talk. She worked eight years as a model doing sales at events for Nike, VW, NKATG, and SEG and learned a lot about marketing, through direct contact with customers. After a while she was training other models. Then she met a division manager for Reliable Churchill distributors and joined them. She developed her own marketing program, hired models, developed strategies that grew business in one area by 20% and in another by 232%. She now has her own business as a marketing consultant. In Rotary she is Public Relations Chair, and heads PR for the Duck Derby. She is on seven club committees.
Abe presented Raven with her blue badge, since her new member talk was the last task needed for transition from a red badge.
Monica McCurdy reported on the Duck Derby Open House event held on Tuesday for prospective partners and sponsors. It turned out very well. She praised Glen O’Gilvie for obtaining $10,000 from Pepco for the project. She also called attention to the online rubber duck “adoption” site at www.crowdrise.com/dcduckderby!
Abe asked members who attended the all-day Rotary Leadership Institute Part I on Saturday to stand. He encouraged all members to sign up for that series of courses at the next opportunity.
Stefan Alber introduced speaker Anne Midgette, Classical Music Critic for the Washington Post. He spoke of his love for opera and was pleased the speaker could give us a taste of the 400-year-old art form, ranging in content from that of classical composers to John Adam’s Nixon in China. Ms. Midgette lived eleven years in Munich after receiving her degree from Yale. She has had reviews in the Wall Street Journal, in Opera News, and was the first woman to review classical music for the New York Times, which she did regularly for several years. She has been with the Post since 2008.
Anne Midgette said if you have an opinion about classical music your need to be able to back that up. Paraphrasing her message: Classical music and opera are still alive. I am still alive. We are going through a period of major change, though. As a newspaper writer on classical music, I joke I am on two sinking ships, but with a great berth.
Mozart, Beethoven, Glass still exist and will do fine. They are not in danger. The institutions that support them are the ones having struggles. We should not conflate those two.
The Post is changing, but also doing well. We moved this week into our new building, and it is amazing. At the same time our online access has surpassed the New York Times by more than a million. Some critics say the Post is pandering to a public with more fun and with articles on things like parenting, but a rising tide lifts all boats, and helps maintain long-form journalism.
There was a time when almost all papers had classical music critics, and now there are only about fifteen of us. But if you go back and read some of those articles in general newspapers, you find many were formulaic and shallow.
I think of opera as best for teens. There is love, drama, and people shouting at the top of their lungs. When you really get to like opera, it hits you in the middle of your head. Opera is about the voices, but it is visceral. Some research shows that blue collar workers are some of the strongest fans, but the problem in propagating opera more broadly to the public is the high cost of the opera house. Some people think you have to be experts in the technical aspects of opera to enjoy it. That is not true. It is like saying you have to know all the technical aspects of the human body to enjoy sex.
(At this point she played a short excerpt from Verdi’s La Traviata, showing how an argument can be made melodic, demonstrating the tension between anger and love.)
The greatest thing about opera is the voices, and the plot is just a vehicle for them. In fact, some plots are silly (but that’s not the official view). Today we see some movement more into story and away from voices.
You do not have to have a lot of training to be a critic and to know what you like. Listen to two different recordings of the same thing and you will be a critic.
(She then played the same section of an opera sung by two different tenors.)
The first singer is perfectly lovely, but without the vitality of the second. Can anyone guess who the singers are?
(Hal Vaughn correctly named the two, who shall remain unnamed here. Ms. Midgette said the answer was outstanding, and that professionals often could not answer the question.)
QUESTIONS, COMMENTS, AND ANSWERS
Q: Your father was a painter; your husband is a composer. How has your family background shaped your career? And when are you coming out with a second book?
A: My publisher just contacted me about the second book, but I still have to write it. My family has had a big influence on me. My uncle was an opera singer, and helped open the Kennedy Center as the celebrant in Leonard Bernstein’s Mass, which Bernstein wrote for the Center’s opening. I have an aunt who was a dancer, and another who was a classical pianist.
Q: What do you think about the reduction in musical education, particularly in public schools?
A: Even without music education for a child, there can still be interest. A lot of young people without earlier music education in school are studying in music conservatories. There are many things that can be done to pique interest. If childhood music education did make a difference, we should be targeting 40-50 year-olds, who did have music in schools. There is too much lip service paid to music and arts education, but it is more than that.
Q: If I wanted to expose a group of 11-13 year-olds to opera, as part of a holistic approach to their development, how would I do that?
A: Carefully. Don’t be too eager to push them into it, but give them opera and classical music as options out there. The more you push youth to do something, the more they are likely to resist. Something that got me interested as a child was my uncle taking me behind the scenes to see operatic costumes. You can do something like that by arranging a tour with the Washington Opera [now called the Washington National Opera] at the Kennedy Center.
President-Elect Candidate Abe presented Anne Midgette with a certificate noting that a tree that will be planted in a public area in her honor.
Howard Davis pulled the winning number for the Raffle from the box. Monica Smith won the small pot of $81 but did not win the large pot of $696.
Abe thanked Howard Davis for conducting today’s Raffle, Balraj Gupta and Stu Shalloway for staffing the Hospitality Desk, Shaun English for being a Greeter, and the Secretary for writing today’s Meeting in Review.
The meeting adjourned at 1:30 pm.