Monday, September 27, 2010

National anthems

When I was at the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, during WWII, I used to hear the band play a national anthem every weekday morning, as we assembled for the regular morning assembly (known as "Divisions") on the parade ground. We played the anthems of our allies, even if some of the nations were occupied by German forces. After Pearl Harbor, we added "The Star Spangled Banner". I liked the tune, although the words were hard to sing - not a requirement at Divisions.

In recent times, there have been suggestions that we should change our National Anthem, and that would be fine by me, but I should be surprised if it happens during the remaining years of my lifetime. The US Senate is far too busy filibustering to take up such a controversial topic.

What I most abhor is the "rendition" of our "Anthem" by pop singers, who give it their own "interpretation". I was heartened when a friend sent me an email, attaching a link to an excellent "straight" version, by the assembled cadet choirs of the Navy, Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard.

I think you will like the recording, made at the start of a professional football game. It is here:

I'll admit that what is left of my taste for triumphalism in the Armed Services was stirred by this performance.

Until towards the end, when that terrible bane of premature cheering began. I just wish that stadium crowds would allow the singers to finish the anthem, before starting to applaud.

Barbara and I attended another concert by the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra last night. It was an all-Mozart program, and the civilized audience avoided applauding the individual movements, and allowed the conductor a second or two of respite, as he brought Symphony #41 ("Jupiter") to its rapturous conclusion. Happily, no premature applause marred our appreciative enjoyment.

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