Bacchic Concert- Pietro Paolini 1625-1630
Can I just say how the central lutist looks so annoyed?
A late 16th century portrait of a Commedie dell’arte troupe by Musee Carnavalet. Isabella Andreini is generally identified as the central woman.
Maddelena Casulana, 16th Century Portrait
A chantar m’er de so q’ieu no voldria- Beaxtrix de Dia
I’m sorry that this is not in related to women composers and that my updates in that have been slow, but over the last couple nights I have been attending town meetings in relation to a very unfortunate act that has been going on in my town. For years both the Town Council and the School Committee have been threatening to cut activities such as sports, music, drama, etc. This is awful in itself only because both the fine arts and sports are such great programs at my former high school. In my senior year alone we won the Berklee Jazz Festival, which was a night that I will remember for the rest of my life. It’s like winning State if you’re on football, it’s an event that will go down in West Warwick history. So whenever either side says “we’re going to cut this-” they immediately piss a lot of people off.
This time around, the school committee added on to this list cutting DARE, YMCA, any honors society including language, scholarly, and music, after school buses, bus monitors, school council, prom, anything that you can think of that makes a school a school, they want to get rid of it. Now while the school committee are the ones that made this decision, it is the town council that has driven them to this point. This is because the town council decided to with hold 5% of the school’s budget, enough money which would take care of these programs if returned. The money is there in the budget, just the school can’t use it. Worse off, that money will just SIT THERE, not to be used for ANYTHING. Nothing of the town’s problems will be fixed if that money is not given back to the school because the town cannot legally use it for anything.
Of course when asked this, the town council claimed that they tried to give the school this 5% and the school committee declined it. Why would they do that? They keep saying that the school committee continues to sue them over some sum of money. However, instead of “settling” anything, the town council counter sues! Our taxes are being used for this childish “he said she said” and the entire town is SICK TO DEATH OF IT because the ones who are suffering are not THEM but the kids in the schools who are being robbed of a quality education.
Now of course, I stand for the side that they should give the money back to the school because I am a product of that music program at my high school. The problem is, I know, that it will only fix the school for the present. It’s not a long term solution. However, it is better than letting the money just sit there. There were some citizens that were concerned if the money was given back, what would happen to their taxes? And the town council of course replied that taxes would go up.
By this point I had a question that I was quite certain that no one else had asked so I was standing in line. There were a whole slew of children in front of me, crying about how they really like their sports and music and drama (which was really cute at first but then soon lost its impact after about 30 of them did it), and a lot of people who were just upset that the town council and school committee were acting like children. By time I actually made it up to the mike it was about 9:45 (maybe later) more than 2 hours after the meeting had begun. My question was…
"If the money is not given back to the school and West Warwick High School LOSES its accreditation because it does not have the interscholastic sports, music programs, fine arts, any honors society, whatever, what happens to the town of West Warwick in terms of its value and taxes?"
This question I felt was very important and valid because it addresses the LONG TERM, not the immediate, of the affects of the schools losing their programs. State testing scores and education at the school, as well as *I* did when I was a student, is not on par with the rest of the state. I’m quite sure that it is because of the programs that the schools are still accredited.
However when I asked this question, the town council just stared at me. Part of me does not blame them, they had a lot of people who “asked” questions, but really were making statements. It was disappointing though, when I had to actually clarify, “Um. That was an actual question. Please answer it.” One school committee member did answer saying that property values would plummet, taxes would raise, people would move out because who wants to send their child to a non-accredited school? But only one person answered so I also had to ask, “Thank you, does ANYONE else have anything else to say?” One other member then said how people would leave the town, and businesses, and the entire town suffer greatly.
And there you go. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. But in any case I wanted to highlight that despite the fact that people think if the town council helps the school tax payers would be screwed immediately, the fact is tax payers would hurt WORSE if nothing is done at all. Unfortunately by the time I asked the question a lot of people in the audience left, and so did the cameras. Fortunately all meetings are recorded so it’s on record. I left very soon after I received my answer because I was so frustrated and had such a headache.
I did have a chance to talk to my dad that night, however, and it was a mix of what my mom said about the school losing accreditation and my dad asking me why am I passionate if I don’t pay property tax that I asked the question to begin with. Despite the fact that I am moving to Massachusetts, I am leaving all my family behind in West Warwick who will be the ones to deal with it. My dad said that he was incredibly proud of me that I asked a question that floored the town council, and that was why none of them answered me immediately. They clearly didn’t think about the long term, and everyone was just focusing on the present. But that’s why I do, because I care so greatly about the people I love, whether they are my family, my students, or my former teachers.
There are no simple answers to this complex problem. However, this is just proof that integrity is something to be valued in this world because it is rare; not many people have it anymore, certainly not the people on the town council or school committee. They have to STOP playing this game of one ups and scare tactics and think hard about what is the RIGHT THING TO DO. Otherwise, the tax payers, the citizens that keep this town running, will leave, and my home town will comprise of nothing but a bunch of children quibbling over a stupid sum of money.
‘O gloriosissimi’, antiphon from Hildegard of Bingen’s ‘Symphonia armonie celestium revelationum’, c1163–1175 (Dendermonde Abbey, MS 9). From Oxford Music Online.
I will put up a written synopsis of Medieval Women Composers/Musicians later today after work. For an introduction to the era, here is a Byzantine chant by the composer Kassia (also spelled Cassia).
Kassia (810 CE-867 CE) was a Byzantine-Greek composer and hymnographer who was part of a wealthy family in Constantinople. As expected for a higher class woman, Kassia was given a thorough education which included classical Greek literature. She became the abbess of a monastery where she wrote many liturgical compositions, both chants and hymns, and even some with her own text. One hymn Kyrie he en pollais, is a penitential hymn for Mary Magdalene, one of the only ones of its kind (paraphrased from “Kassia” Oxford Music Online).
The video here is an example of one of Kassia’s hymns, “Glory to God.”
In the Days of Sappho- by John William Godward
Wedding Hymn- Sapphos
Oh the roof on high,
raise up, craftsmen,
The bridegroom comes just like Ares,
a man much bigger than a big man.
Sappho (Σαπφώ) of Lesbos (Λέσβος), lived in the VII-VI century BC, and was a great lyric poet of Ancient Greece.
A Greek female choir.