While Mike Huckabee’s emergence as a Republican front runner in the 2008 Presidential race is obviously good news for his supporters, it also pleases some music and arts advocates. Writer Alex Ross has already noted the former Arkansas governor’s professed love for music and his legislation to bolster it in public schools. (Remember Bill Clinton and his saxophone?) While in office, Huckabee signed a law requiring every child in grades one through six to receive at least forty minutes a week of instruction in music and other arts. "In the true spirit of No Child Left Behind," Huckabee explained, "leaving the arts out is beyond neglect and is virtual abuse of a child."
2008 promises to be an interesting year to watch the role of music in politics. In February, The New York Philharmonic Orchestra will play in Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, at North Korea’s invitation. This is the first visit by an American cultural group to that country since President Bush lumped it into the “axis of evil.” According to the State Department, President Bush is encouraging the visit.
In July, as I’ve noted before, The Rochester Oratorio Society is singing in a cultural festival preceding the 2008 Summer Olympic Games. According to China’s Performing Arts Agency, ROS will be the first choir in history from the U.S. to perform in the Great Hall of the People, located at the western edge of Tiananmen Square in Beijing.
There’s power in music. Winnaretta Singer, the famous modern muse, once said of a Bach chorale, it “reconstitutes the past, and proves to us that we had a reason for living on this rock: to live in the beautiful kingdom of sounds.”