Wednesday, March 1, 2006

Blog #8, First Amendment

I expected this blog to be about Round Five of the Ives Vocal Marathon, acronym IVM. However, Johana Arnold got sick the day of the projected concert at Hartwick College and we’ve had to postpone the concert. Bummer. The previous concert was postponed from February 12 to February 19 because of a near-blizzard snowfall. And the very first pair of these concerts, in January of 2005, had to be postponed a couple of days because of show. Sometimes I think the weatherman confuses Chares Ives with Currier and Ives and thinks we at the IVM really WANT all this snow! The elements (and now the germs) are clearly not being cooperative. So my report on Rounds Four and Five of the IVM is delayed until Johana’s concert is rescheduled. (A nightmare, by the way—juggling two college professors’ schedules is bad enough, but add that of Paul Woodiel, Broadway fiddler [The Color Purple at the moment], and Kim Patterson, professor who’s musical director of a college musical about to start production [Urinetown] and it’s very hard to come up with a date.)

But there is real news on the First Amendment front. The Associated Press has just released information from the McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum about our woeful ignorance of our rights. 22% of Americans can name all five Simpson family members, but only one in a thousand (that’s .1%!!) can name the five freedoms guaranteed in the First Amendment. To this we’ve come. And the margin of error of their poll is 3%, so it’s possible a whopping one-quarter of us can name Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and… (What’s the baby’s name?) I don’t know off the top of my head how to reduce .1% by three percentage points and I’m not going to try (this is a blog, after all). But any way you slice it, the spread is appalling.

At least this woeful state of affairs is inspiring me to get cracking on the details of the spring tour of “The Bill of Rights,” my plan to have a download in all the states (way behind schedule), and other business pertaining to my most recent choral composition. The Unitarian Church in New Haven is going to do the whole piece in the spring. And other performances are talked about here and there across the country—more on this subject very soon. Grading midterm exams be damned! Ives performances move over! Let’s educate at least a handful of folks about their rights in this great democracy.

For more about the Freedom Museum, the poll, and the First Amendment, check out:

In case you’ve noticed that I only produced one blog in February, I’m counting today as a mythical “February 29, 2006,” In such a short month I need a couple of extra days—at least one—to fulfill my obligations. I’ll catch up with two new blogs later in March.