Culture, the classics and Bugs Bunny

My daughter is learning from amazing teachers, not Saturday morning TV

My daughter plays double bass in her high school orchestra. Well, I assume she plays the bass in her high school orchestra. At least she tells us she does.

The curse of being the bass player’s parent is that we never get to see her during concerts. Bass players stand in the back behind the cellos and violas, the popcorn vendor, Business Select passengers and the touring cast of “Grease.” Also, she takes after her mom and me so that means height is not among her strong suits. We attend her concerts in the unshakable faith that she’s back there somewhere, throwing thunder.

Here are some of the phrases that my wife and I exchange at the outset of each concert as we scan the stage, looking for her familiar face: “I think I see the top of her head,” “that seems like her,” and “uueeuunnh” (that’s the shrug and the “I don’t know” sound).

That’s fine, though, because she’s part of an incredibly strong group led by amazing teachers who have created an award-winning music program. We could not be luckier, but that’s not my point.

Their musicianship is brilliant. They play pieces by legends: Bach, Mozart, Shostakovich – and also Fudd, Duck, Pig and Bunny. I can’t bring myself to admit to my daughter that for me, the cultural touchstone for the amazing art she helps make comes primarily from Bugs Bunny cartoons.

It struck me during the most recent concert, when I opened the program to see they would be performing the Barber of Seville Overture by Gioachino Rossini. Or, if you’re me, the song that plays when Bugs Bunny is piling fruit salad on Elmer Fudd’s head.

I suppose it’s great that my daughter’s cultural education is coming straight from the classics. Still, I can’t say there’s anything wrong with the fact that I know Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 in C Sharp Minor because it was in Walt Disney’s “Silly Symphonies,” Tom and Jerry, Woody Woodpecker, “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” and perhaps most famously, “Rhapsody Rabbit.” If only Franz Liszt were still around to collect royalties.

As a child of the 1970s and 80s, perhaps I do owe a good portion of my cultural education to Saturday and Sunday morning TV. Larry Fine was my favorite violinist, I love Wagner’s operas (his classic, “Kill the Wabbit” is a rousing piece, and my favorite maestro is Leopold). So thank you, Chuck Jones.

My daughter, however, is getting her cultural education in a much more traditional way. She may know Boston like the back of her hand because she played Fallout 4 (a video game set in a post-apocalyptic version of the Bay State capital), but she knows the classics because of her teachers. And for that, her mother and I are grateful. At the end of every performance, I am beyond impressed with what those kids do. Their professionalism, commitment to the work involved and the unbelievable results they get leave me dazzled every time.

Bugs Bunny would be over the moon. I know I am.

Bill Burke is a writer who lives in southern New Hampshire with his wife and daughter, who are vewwy quiet during wabbit season. He is also the managing editor of custom publications for McLean Communications.

 

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