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Other Views of the International Festival

September 10, 1988

With space supposed to be at a premium in our newspapers today, one wonders why the Los Angeles Times would devote nearly two full pages to an event that one of its music critics described as an embarrassment.

That event, the International Music and Dance Festival, was held on Aug. 27 at the Orange County Performing Arts Center. Without a penny's worth of paid advertising, the show was a sell-out. As a plus, it was a boon to world trade, bringing many members of the international consular corps to the Center for the first time.

Here was a performance the likes of which the Center had not experienced before: It was not an opera, it was not a symphony, it was not a concert. For many people it was the first involvement with the Center. It was that grand kind of glorious event which reached out to many.

Before the critics take on the task of reporting a musical show, why don't they educate themselves as to (its) intricacies? Critics panned the use of taped music. Are they not aware of the near impossibility of importing or searching for some of the instruments used, such as Congo drums which take seven minutes to be tuned and cannot be moved without requiring another tuning?

One reporter complained of the Chapman Symphony sitting idle while mechanical music was played. Does the critic expect the violinist, the cellist or the flutist to suddenly trade their (sic) instrument for an unfamiliar instrument from the Congo, the Far East or Armenia?

Many ethnic music and dance events use taped music. Does the reporter expect half a dozen or more orchestras to be produced suddenly between acts? Obviously, the whole point of Saturday's event is lost to the music critic who does not repond to these realities.

The festival was not designed to be a world famous group of operatic or symphonic performers. As Times staff writer Cathy Curtis pointed out, the event was intended to celebrate the ethnic diversity of Orange County.

I think it was a splendid kick-off for the Centennial Celebration and the audience of some 3,000 loved it.

Johnnie Carl's fabulous "squeaky-clean" arrangement (as The Times' critic called it) of "America, the Beautiful," featuring the Master Chorale of Orange County, really brought down the house. Why don't the critics listen once in a while to audience reaction, instead of relying on their own, often misguided, ideas?

My hat is off to Ruth Ding and her colleagues who gave us such a wonderful night of exciting entertainment. Let's have another one. Next time, the critics can stay at home.


Santa Ana

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