The UCLA Chorale: A Small Part of a Larger Picture

I almost didn't write this post because I try - I fail sometimes, but I try - to have enough familiarity with a subject to be relatively certain of my facts. That may not be the case this time.

But let me back up a bit. I enjoyed islandbruin2's insight when I read his post about Gene Block's surprising role on the NCAA Executive Committee. And thanks to Nick2002's kindness, I was able to read the full comments of our ... uh ... respected chancellor the next day. And yet, as I read Block's Year in Review, something bothered me about his description of leadership, and it seemed different from my usual objection to his views.

I couldn't help thinking back to when I played baseball as a kid. If you hit the ball far enough, you had a home run. But there was a caveat, and every once in a while someone forgot it and had to pay the price. You had to touch all the bases. And I think that's at least part of what's missing from Block's leadership.

Now, it may seem strange, but having said that, I want to turn to Beethoven and, more specifically, the relationship of Beethoven to the UCLA Chorale and the retirement of its conductor. I hope many of you haven't grown impatient; this is a sports site, after all, not a place for extended discussions of classical music, and I'm a certifiable lunatic when it comes to watching UCLA play. But I also happen to love Beethoven, Mozart and other composers, who gather our spirits and lift them to a higher place. And this all gets back to Block's leadership, if you'll bear with me.

At any rate, on June 9, the Daily Bruin ran a story about the retirement of Donald Neuen, who spent 20 years on campus after earlier stops at other schools. The UCLA Newsroom, the main public relations arm of the school, ran its own tribute the following day. Both stories included well-deserved praise for Neuen, who is 80.

But what interested me was the way Neuen said goodbye. It was with a concert at Royce Hall entitled "The Faith of Beethoven: A Musical Journey of Hope." The concert included Beethoven's C Major Mass and his Choral Fantasia, but perhaps you'd like to see a YouTube video of at least part of it (or another type of video if one exists).

Don't waste your time because, as far as I can tell, there is no video. In fairness, there is a video of a Bach choral work recorded last year, and I will apologize if a video of the Beethoven concert turns up on the Internet, particularly if the School of Music or another department at UCLA had any part in its production.

However, whether such a video shows up may be beside the point. It seemed to me when I searched on Google that there were relatively few such videos of the UCLA Chorale. I don't know why that is. Maybe there are legal prohibitions or restrictions on making them. (I can't imagine that cost is an issue.) Since Bruins Nation is nothing if not a haven for legal minds, maybe Class of 66, Fox, BrendonBruin, or someone else can explain any obstacles that may exist.

Even ignoring the question of whether the UCLA Chorale is adequately represented on the Internet, anyone who has enjoyed its performances in person may now have something else to worry about. A recent petition on the Web claims "the future of choral music at UCLA is in jeopardy." The writers, who put up their post after the retirement concert for Donald Neuen, said they had received a "positive response" to their petition but still hoped to hear from Block.

On a personal note, I hope things work out for the chorale, but one thing's for sure: It's part of a larger picture. And I go back to what I said in my last post. Choosing among competing priorities is a critical task. It may even be more important than the cause that's most celebrated - fundraising - because there will never be enough money for everything.

In many ways (not all ways because my family comes before everything), UCLA is the soil of my roots and the lifeblood of my dreams. I support a football stadium on campus and a well-run athletic department. Frankly, I don't know which is more unlikely. But I do know this: Attendance at games helps to build a sense of pride and belonging. And classical music? Maybe it helps us to discover our truest selves.

So, at least in my calculations, when a university goes ahead with something like the Luskin center at a time when there are far more pressing needs and the economy's recovery is anything but certain, a trickle becomes a torrent.

Oh, wait, I forgot - we've already got a torrent.

<em>This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of BruinsNation's (BN) editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of BN's editors.</em>

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