8/25/09

How Many Paragraphs Can We Manage before Contradicting Ourselves?

And, really: not just merely contradicting a point, but completely contradicting the lede and topic sentence.

Figure 1: Which falsely implies that the answer is three.

Let's see!

[Aside: What the hell is with the random hyperlinking in online newspaper articles? It seems to have neither rhyme nor reason.]

Symphony dives into season with a 'blockbuster splash'

That is, perhaps, the worst title ever. That title just got beat by the 2008 Detroit Lions.

Why qualify 'blockbuster' with 'splash'? 'Blockbuster' is already a stupid, overused word.

Figure 2: I mean, it did pretty well and all, but I'd hardly call it a 'blockbuster.'

The answer: it comes from a quote used in the article. Well, fair enough, I guess; but that neither explains nor excuses the emendation of 'dives into' to match 'splash' in the headline.

Ha ha! It's like the orchestra concert season is a pool!

Wait, what?

The Phoenix Symphony opens this season with Beethoven's monumental paean to universal brotherhood, his Ninth Symphony -

Wait, which one?

- also known as the "Choral Symphony,"

Um. Is that the one with...

...with the "Ode to Joy."

Oh, that Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. Welp, I reckon if you're gonna start with a self-proclaimed blockbuster, that's one of your choices right there.

Unlike most orchestras

, which use the grand choral piece as the final gala of the season, in Phoenix, the symphony has a habit of starting the season with the big bang.

A habit? A practice? Tradition? 'The' big bang'? "A" big bang?

But, okay. We're clearly building up to something (unlike the Phoenix Symphony season, which is, apparently, carefully constructed to be one long denouement), so lay it on me.

"Last season, we had Jane Eaglen and the Wagner spectacular," music director Michael Christie says, "and before that, we brought in James Galway and his flute."

Galway's a nice guy and all from what I hear, but his concerts are much, much better when he brings his flute.


Figure 3: A picture of Sir James Galway that is Fun to Look at, with Unidentified Friend (date unknown).

Last season also jumped immediately into the World Music Festival.

This...what? Is that supporting evidence for the 'blockbusters first' argument? Wagner + 'world music' = blockbuster opening? Mmkay...

"It's frankly that, in Arizona, it's tricky to start the season in September, when we don't have the whole core of our audience back from where they go in summer," Christie says.

What is "it"? If an orchestra programs a blockbuster splash extravaganza happening event and no one's there to hear it, does it make a sound [at the ticket office]?

"So we try to put some blockbuster splash at the beginning of the season. Beethoven's Ninth is a good way to do that."

Is it? Isn't that sort of like starting the 2009 summer movie season with "The Wizard of Oz"?

It helps that it's such a known quantity and won't require weeks of extra rehearsal for chorus and orchestra.

Known quantity! Kerpow! SPLASH! In your face!

It also underlines the thought that goes into programming a season, which doesn't happen at random.

I love love love this sentence.

The thought...that goes into programming a season...does not happen at random.

Awesome.

And Beethoven's Ninth underlines it.

And it's widely acknowledged that one of Christie's strengths is his programming.

Clearly.

"We're always keeping an eye on music not played recently, so we don't overdo it with the big warhorses,"Christie says.

Wow.

Really?

Wow.

Man, that's speeding even in rural Arizona: Blockbuster splash smash opening to not overdoing the 'big warhorses' in under nine paragraphs* flat

*Some of the paragraphs are very, very short, so judge accordingly.

The rest of the article is available via the link above.


Figure 4: I have no idea. I merely Googled "war horse".

11 comments:

Gustav said...

What a bizarre article. The other major work on the concert is John Adams' On the Transmigration of Souls. I suppose I won't get into whether it is "warhorse", "recently played" or a "blockbuster splash", but it's certainly worthy of mention. The article mentions Adams, but not the work specifically. Really? Not the one dedicated to September 11th? And your concert is on September 11th? Hell, the article doesn't even mention when the concert is. In some ways the article reads like "we think our audience is stupid, so we trick them into coming with bright shiny objects."

Empiricus said...

The biggest contradiction?

"'It's frankly that, in Arizona, it's tricky to start the season in September, when we don't have the whole core of our audience back from where they go in summer,' Christie says."

So why it in September, then?

Sator Arepo said...

Gustav: I thought they were doing concert versions of scenes from Nixon in China, or something.

E: Uh. Yeah. Snowbirds, and so forth?

Gustav said...

The article does mention Nixon in China, but I thought it was a reference to a future performance by the opera company. The Phoenix Symphony Website says they're playing On the Transmigration of Souls. And doing a bit more research, I can't find any performance in Phoenix of any Nixon in China (staged or not). That is article is just full of mis- and under-information.

Sator Arepo said...

Hey: I just realized that Figure 4 might be from "Equus". Cool? Creepy? Only the reader knows for sure.

Anonymous said...

Figure 4 is a photo from the National Theatre in London. The play is not Equus, but War Horse: http://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/warhorse

Sator Arepo said...

Makes sense. Thanks, anonymous!

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