For Confucius and His Descendants- a Cultural Comeback – by Amy Qin – The New York Times


“XI’AN, China — Among the qualifications Kong Dexin had to direct and choreograph a flashy new dance-drama about the ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius, one in particular stood out.According to Ms. Kong, 34, she is a 77th-generation descendant of that revered sage, known in Chinese as Kongzi, or Master Kong.“

Growing up, it was something we talked about casually in my family,” Ms. Kong said in an interview before a recent performance of “Confucius” in this former dynastic capital. (The production will make its American debut in January at the David H. Koch Theater in New York.) “The way my grandfather talked about him, Confucius felt more like a great-grandfather than a very distant relative.”“Very distant” is an understatement. More than 2,500 years separate Ms. Kong, a soft-spoken woman who wears pearl earrings and carries a Louis Vuitton bag, from her ancestor, who was born around 551 B.C.”

Source: For Confucius and His Descendants, a Cultural Comeback – The New York Times

The Presidential Debate in Song: Who’s Gonna Work It Out? – The New York Times

The Presidential Debate in Song: Who’s Gonna Work It Out?Op-DocsBy THE GREGORY BROTHERS and JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT OCT. 10, 2016Continue reading the main storyShare This Page Share Tweet Email More SaveContinue reading the main storyVideoThe Presidential Debate in Song: Who’s Gonna Work It Out?Joseph Gordon-Levitt and the Gregory Brothers team up to present a musical mashup of highlights from the second 2016 presidential debate. By THE GREGORY BROTHERS and JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT on Publish Date October 10, 2016. Photo by The Gregory Brothers. Watch in Times Video » embed ShareTweetAbsurd. Surreal. Farcical. Freakish. Unfathomable. These are just a few of the words that we’ve heard used to describe the 2016 election, plus several synonyms that we just looked up in a thesaurus to make the list look even longer and more weighty.And sure, last night’s debate was strange. A first lady turned senator turned secretary of state versus a landlord turned reality TV host turned semiprofessional birther turned amateur horror movie lurker who creeps up behind you. Yeah, that’s pretty weird.

Source: The Presidential Debate in Song: Who’s Gonna Work It Out? – The New York Times

How Pop Culture Wore Out Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ – The New York Times

“Leonard Cohen’s ballad “Hallelujah” has become so inescapable that the songwriter once asked for a break from his own track. “I think it’s a good song, but too many people sing it,” he told the Guardian in 2009, agreeing with a critic who asked for “a moratorium on ‘Hallelujah’ in movies and television shows.

”It appears that the producers of Sunday night’s Emmy Awards were unaware of the unofficial ban. When the In Memoriam segment began, it was accompanied by Tori Kelly’s gentle acoustic guitar strumming as she started its first verse: “Well, I heard there was a secret chord.” ”

Source: How Pop Culture Wore Out Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ – The New York Times

I love this song, and was inspired to write the following comment for the NYT.

The folk anthem of my teens was possibly “Kumbaya.”  “Hallelujah” is such a lovely improvement. If it has become a candidate for the current national folk anthem, a folklorist and folk singer like myself might argue, it can’t be over-sung. I haven’t memorized the words yet, but it is such a gorgeous piece of music and poetry, it is on my list, senior citizen that I am, of new songs to possibly learn and perform.

For centuries, even millennia, people learned songs through the oral tradition, which has been short circuited by the advent of electronic media and inexpensive print communications, in just the last century. Before radio and phonographs, everyone sang, or danced, or played an instrument, or did all three, because you couldn’t get these arts out of a box done by others, unless you went to the theater.

At some point, I will review all the listings in this article, but my guess it that I will find it hasn’t been done enough, because so many of us don’t know it well enough to perform it ourselves yet. What makes an anthem or community song truly great, is when the audience also knows it well, and sings along, in four or six part harmonies. TV and movie directors will have to indicate to audiences, when it is polite for everyone to sing along with the performer on the screen.