Sunday, February 20, 2005

Pagan with a Small 'p'

Pueblo, Colorado, is a perplexing city. As Pueblo Chieftain columnist Chuck Green wrote in today's paper, it "suffers from a traditional inferiority complex, looking like a haggard woman when a little bit of care could reveal an attractive lady. Sometimes it seems like the city has accepted some self-fulfilling subordination imposed by outsiders."

And yet some local organizations just produced a outstanding performance of Carl Orff's Carmina Burana.

Go figure: it's a shot-and-a-beer, get-pregnant-and-drop-out-of-high-school city with an equally flourishing "high culture" side.

Orff (1895-1982) was a German composer who believed in creating powerful, sensual music that could be performed by nonprofessionals. One organization still carries on his music-education principles.

The "carmina" are medieval songs from a collection found in a German monastery, but their world view is not Christian. It is a frank admittance that sometimes you are up, and sometimes, no matter how you strive, the universe has decided that today is not your day. So you drink a toast to Lady Fortune, and you keep on keeping on.

The gods may favor you, or they may not; meanwhile, "Hail, light of the world. Hail, rose of the world. Blanchefleur and Helen, noble Venus!"

The performers ranged from professional singers to dedicated amateurs (The Pueblo Choral Society) to university students (the solid CSU-Pueblo Percussion Ensemble) to kids (the South High School Cecilian Choir and the Sangre de Cristo Ballet Theatre)--nearly 200 performers in all.

From the first crashing notes . . . O Fortuna velut luna statu variabilis (O Fortune, you are changeable like the Moon), I was carried away. Back to the fog-wrapped dormitory at Reed College where I first heard the Carmina Burana on my girlfriend's stereo, back to the final scenes of John Boorman's Excalibur back to, yes, even the credit-card commercial where the barbarians invade the shopping mall. So what--Orff' s music stands like a wall.

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Anonymous rosewood said...

Yes, Carmina Burana. thanks for reminding me that I need to replace the cassette that I lost with a CD of it. Although--without dancers it really loses its power.

11:05 PM  
Blogger gl. said...

chas, this was a great post to find immediately after media deprivation week. thank you! :D

2:50 PM  

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