Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Autumnal equinox.....

Even-Steven daylight/darkness today. The ol' 12/12. Balance. Equality. The scales tip tomorrow, but today they sit straight.

Summer's gone. And, as much as I love the heat, the garden, the long daylight patterns, summer needs to be over. It was probably the weirdest and least productive summer I have had in YEARS, perhaps, decades....I think I read more books between fifth and six grades than I did this summer. Don't know why, really. I THOUGHT a lot about doing the things I should be actively and physically pursuing, but this summer just had an odd rhythm to it, a very unpredictable, chaotic, lethargic and unsettling rhythm. After all this thinking, that's the best description I can come up with. No wonder I haven't able to write....I can't even think! :=)

My Diss is going to get done, and get done soon. Enough is enough, me thinks. Since my son went back to school (which started the mantra "now I REALLY have time to write"), I haven't written a thing. When I tried to write over the summer, I wasn't focused, couldn't get focused, and churned out some crappy drivel. Which bummed me out. So I stopped.

I'm going to Wisconsin on Thursday to meet with my adWiser about the path I'm on and how to stay on it and get to the end of it with a degree in hand. I'm excited to see Madison and some old friends, and frankly, part of the reason for the trip is to immerse myself in a college town, even if it's only for 3 or 4 days. The energy, the environment, the whole academic package surrounding that city (200,000 with 40,000 students....pretty university-heavy) gives me a jolt of inspiration every time I'm there. Wish me luck.

I re-read my last post in which I claimed to have found my newest version of Dissertation focus. Well, it is sort of what I want to do--the history of the symphony--but, that awareness was just a step that led toward the current focus. After sending my adWiser a blurb related to the whole cultural-history-of-the-symphony-using-Buffalo-as-an-example thing, she promptly responded with one (and only one) very poignant and obvious (but not to me) question (which is why she is fondly called my "adWiser" and not "adviser"): "What happened to the New Deal? I thought your original historical interest was the Great Depression, not the history of the symphony." Ahhhhhh, yes, indeed.

And, so it began. I may not have been writing these past three weeks, but I cleaned my office and sorted through sooo many drafts of this friggin' Diss....and I bought a shredder. Some of my writing had been from so long ago that when I read it, I got even more confused and dismayed. How long have I been working on this, again? How long have I pondered these thoughts? Why am I making this so difficult? Just stop. Stop. Clear the air. Then start again. No distractions. Stop.

And that's when the bulb went off--it is I who is making this hard. Just do it. Good gracious:

My focus in the intersection of government, economics, and the orchestral music tradition as they interacted during the crisis of the Great Depression. Buffalo, NY offers an exemplary case to study as the Buffalo Symphony Orchestra (defunct at the time) received federal relief funds as part of the New Deal's Federal Music Project for its "rejuvenation." This relationship lasted for five years and resulted in the establishment of the city's first permanent orchestra, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, which remains the region's premier orchestral organization. Through archives, musicological analysis of events, people and performance, and methodologies from interdisciplinary fields such as economics, American history, folklore theory, and cultural geography, the BPO becomes a lens with which to demonstrate how aspects of the New Deal interacted with musical arts. The under-researched and idiosyncratic circumstances within Buffalo's "symphonic culture" reveal how a century of cultural work performed by professional orchestral musicians in this region finds a foothold, oddly enough, at the end of the Great Depression. It's a history that observes the events in the city but considers the formation of goals, ideals and expectations as part of a nation-wide attempt to establish and replicate this performance tradition appropriate to the intended cultural and geographical terrain. One reason this locality study focuses on Buffalo is due to the rich and varied nature of the story and its source material. But, at the heart of this research is the overarching curiosity of how the orchestral music tradition in America grappled with the rise of "the masses," the public domain of taste, the formation and extension of cultural identity relative to this tradition, the politics and influence of local and national government, and the always-precarious role of money in the professional arts. The latter argument, whose path can be traced back to late-18th century New England, remains an element of American musical life today. The microcosm for this project begins in Buffalo as one city to emerge out of the Great Depression with its symphonic culture not only intact, but stronger than ever before. The legacy created by the BPO, as it celebrates its 69th season today, remains tied to the complex national and local events during the New Deal and the Great Depression of the 1930s.

I feel the scales eager to tip, equinox or not. It's time. Ready, set......*gulp*......GO!!!!


cara said...

Judes ... have a safe trip to Wisc. look forward to what transpires!

Katie said...

Have you looked into the federal funds that were given to painters, sculptures, musicians, etc. during the New Deal era (the exact name of this project escapes me right now). The government supported the painting of murals and such art to put artists back to work - did the gov't give money to city orchestras as well?? Would the BPO have benefited from this?

I don't know...just a thought...