Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Nina Totenberg's Musical Interlude

Dowager of the Supreme Court Press Corps Flees First Street for Fascinating Piece on Pablo Casals at the White House 50 Years Ago

"Morning Edition" thrives on NPR because not everybody needs to have traffic and weather together running in the background on a continuous loop.
It has the second-highest radio audience nationwide (behind only Rush Limbaugh) because it gives the listener some credit for actually having a brain and the attention span to listen to something different while communing with a bowl of Cheerios or stuck on the interstate.
Today's report by Nina Totenberg, mainly about the remarkable story behind cellist Pablo Casals playing at the White House is a perfect example. Running 7:18, it's a compelling narrative about a special moment likely unknown to many listeners, including me.
The larger theme of Totenberg's report is the celebration of the 50th anniversary of JFK's inauguration by the D.C. performing arts center that bears his name. As Totenberg notes, before the Kennedys, there was little in the way of regional arts companies and no such thing as the National Endowment for the Arts.
That all changed under Kennedy, a part of his legacy not as well-known or appreciated. The Kennedy Center's gala on Feb. 6 will change that. Meantime, Totenberg's piece is a fine primer. Well worth the listen. You'll have plenty of time to check on the traffic later.

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