Magazine article The American Organist

From the President

Magazine article The American Organist

From the President

Article excerpt

I BEGIN TO HAVE a valedictory feeling about these messages, because my time as your President is growing short. It would be easy to yield to either of the temptations this seems to induce-the temptation of Pollyanna to say that all is well; and the opposite temptation, that of the cynic who says that not only is the world going to hell in a handbasket, but also that it deserves to. Our world, as RCCO members and as musicians, is no more secure than anybody else's, but we have reason to hope, and reason to keep on working and caring.

Part of that reason lies in one of the things that sometimes frighten us: the fact that world views and ideas change from generation to generation, or to put it more succinctly, the fact of the generation gap. That faith-filled cynic, the compassionate mocker G.K. Chesterton, wrote:

I believe what really happens in history is this: the old man is always wrong; and the young people are always wrong about what is wrong with him. The practical form it takes is this: that, while the old man may stand by some stupid custom, the young man always attacks it with some theory that turns out to be equally stupid.

Now you can quibble with this, as with most of Chesterton's obiter dicta. Old men, or women, aren't always wrong-in our musical line one has only to think of Byrd, or Haydn, or Verdi to know that age can be richly creative and spiritually right. Similarly, the young don't always misunderstand, nor do they invariably advance some "theory that turns out to be equally stupid." Of course, sometimes we who qualify for senior discounts do wish to defend a custom, an opinion, or a style that is ripe for reconsideration, remodeling, or replacement. And those who are young do sometimes press for changes that in time turn out not to be good choices.

But for me as a (still) working university teacher and church choral director, the estrangement between the generations is more apparent than real. …

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