Canons and canonicity

I’m still getting my conference notes together, but in the meantime we can all chew our collective cud (cuds?) over a recent New York Times story by Stephen Holden promoting the latest recording by performer Michael Feinstein. It’s not clear whether or not Holden is lauding Feinstein’s “archivist’s mentality” in his description of the vocalist’s career and latest projects, but buried within the piece is the news that the singer/pianist intends to donate “his ever-expanding sound archive” and “all his memorabilia and manuscripts” to what will become known as the Feinstein Foundation for the Education and Preservation of the Great American Songbook, to be located in a still-under-construction performing arts complex in Carmel, Indiana. Another press release I somehow managed to miss back in June.

Personally, I’ve always had some difficulty with the whole “Great American Songbook” construct (if it’s not a concept recognized by LC, then don’t talk to me about it!), but it did amuse me that the Wikipedia entry asserts that the acronym for this topic is GAS.

Also touching on issues relating to popular music and music archives is an article by Andrew Clark in the Guardian concerning the possible sale of the powerful Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization (which the paper nevertheless persists in calling “Organisation”) — a story apparently first reported in the New York Post. It’s a story with some worrisome implications and obviously one worth keeping an eye on.

Image credit: Negative of John Vachon photograph, Closed gas station on U.S. 40, Brazil, Indiana. Library of Congress P & P Online Catalog Digital ID: (digital file from intermediary roll film) fsa 8a33325


Winter Garden

Reading from the West Coast, I was struck by that phrase in Ben Brantley’s myopic blip of a review of the City Center Encores! staging of Juno last week in the New York Times. Oh you jaded, jaded New Yorkers! Not appreciating sufficiently either Encores! or performing arts archives.

Image credit: NYPL Digital Gallery Image ID #TH-57070