The Duke (University) of Music

Posted on March 25, 2011

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(If you like, click that link and listen while you read. I think it will enhance your reading of this.)

How many of you out there enjoyed the heck out of the Arizona Wildcats bearing down and DESTROYING the Duke Blue Devils last night in the NCAA Basketball Tourney? I know I did, and I’m certain I’m not alone. Even though nearly all of us probably had Duke advancing in our brackets, many of us who follow college basketball would rather see Duke lose than see our bracket preserve a shred of respectability. Just like the freaking New York Yankees (my sports archnemesis), they almost never go away no matter how hard you wish for them to, and lots of us hate them for it.

I think there’s something in our American DNA that gets folks P.O.-ed at Duke and things like Duke. We always fall for Cinderella and never for the perceived royalty. And so I wonder: is whatever is at the root of people’s disdain for Duke hoops also at the root of people’s desire to keep their distance from classical music? The parallels, to me, are pretty striking. People hate Duke for their perceived level of affluence; people keep their distance from classical music because they perceive it to be an affluent thing to enjoy. People hate Duke because they feel no connection to the players; people run from classical music because they assume they can’t connect to music that’s so old that’s performed in clothes they don’t connect with (but of course, we think the Duke of Earl looks like a stud when wears his tails). As much as we love our American DNA, my fellow Americans, you have to admit that sometimes it prevents us from partaking in things that we would probably really enjoy.

Here’s the rub: even if we hate Duke basketball, guess what we’re inevitably watching come the end of March Madness? Duke basketball. If we love college basketball and the NCAA Tournament, we’re forced to confront Duke’s greatness year after year. But get it in your head that a certain kind of music “isn’t for you” and you can easily live your whole life ignorant of boatloads of greatness. And we should never, ever intentionally ignore greatness, no matter what form it comes in.

Just like the Duke of Earl longs to find his Duchess, classical music gently invites you to walk through her Dukedom. Quite frankly, the majority of us Americans never have. Accepting her invitation doesn’t require you to put out on a first date or that you commit to her long-term. It only requires that you give her an honest chance. And I assure you that giving her that chance, live and in person, is a small price to pay for the Paradise you could share.

(Ooh hooo hooo hooo hooo….hooooooo hooo hooo…..OWWW WOWW WOW WOW….)

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