It never ceases to amaze me what stories become viral, or what people get into a fuss about. So when I saw this story about how a high school band was doing a show with a “celebration of the Russian Revolution”, I wasn’t surprised by the ignorance of the report. In fact, this report highlights something very important. People can be offended by something that is completely innocuous and make a big deal out of something that deserves nothing of the sort.
So what is this story about? The New Oxford High School marching band has a show which honors the music of a great Russian composer by the name of Dmitri Shostakovich. Shostakovich is a name any music history buff would know. He was a great artist who composed many great symphonies and operas. Some have even claimed he was the greatest composer of the 20th century.
I have some insight into the process of how this works. I was heavily involved in the marching band in high school and my brother has remained involved many years after graduating lending his hand at instruction. Every year the band director’s for the marching band must come up with a coherent theme which to base their show. This theme becomes very important to the visual elements of the show itself and depending on the level of competition sought, the theme and visual elements must connect with the music being played.
So when the title of the show is, “The Music of Shostakovich“, coming up with visual elements for the show isn’t even hard to do. It must incorporate visual elements of the Russian Revolution because that is not only what influenced Shostakovich’s work, but that is the time period in which he composed his work.
Enter the ignorant masses.
Todd Starnes, of Fox News, wrote this piece and had a lot of interesting quotes to share from ‘irate parents’.
“There is no reason for Americans to celebrate the Russian revolution.”
“I am sure the millions who died under Communism would not see the joy of celebrating the Russian revolution by a school 10 miles from Gettysburg.”
“It was Glee meets the Russian Revolution.”
“Who thought this was a good idea?”
It never ceases to amaze me how ignorant some people are. This show is not a celebration of the Russian Revolution. It is a show designed to honor the work of one of the 20th century’s greatest composers, Dmitri Shostakovich. Of course that doesn’t matter to the ignorant. They see what they want to see and no explanation will satisfy them.
The only word of advice I can give to the band director at The New Oxford High School is to add an introductory monologue over a loudspeaker about the show, Shostakovich, and explain what and why certain visual aspects are being used. This may not be something needed during a competition, but for those attending football games on Friday nights, it might help to explain what is going on to the ignorant masses.