Arts are in full swing; have fun

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 21, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

Were it not for the offer of free chow with my folks on Easter, I could easily have slept the day away. For one thing, it’s essentially just another Sunday for me. Also, I had gone to bed at 6 a.m., which is about the same time many of you were waking up or already at a sunrise service. Hope somebody said a prayer for me.

Thankfully, the alarm woke me to a beautiful afternoon, and I met my parents right on time for the grub. Later, I settled back down for more sleep. What can I say? My editor was right about me a few years ago when describing me as an affable vampire. But don’t look for fangs if ever we meet; blood is the one thing I’ll not be sucking on.

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Which reminds me: the Philip Glass Ensemble is coming to Norfolk next Monday and Tuesday as part of the Virginia Arts Festival. The first night the famed American composer and group will perform music he recently wrote for &uot;Dracula&uot; (the Bela Lugosi version); the next night &uot;Koyaanisqatsi&uot; (&uot;Life Out of Balance&uot;). I’m even taking vacation days just to attend both nights, that’s how much I think of Glass’ music.

Speaking of music, the YMCA Community Chorus is performing Saturday, April 25 and Sunday, April 26. Barring complications, I hope to attend and trust you’ll make it a point to do so as well. The members give their all to not merely entertain in song, but also raise funds for the YMCA’s summer camp program. Call 934-9622 for details.

I don’t know if the concert is part of the aforementioned festival, but to my way of thinking it would be nice if Suffolk were a bit more involved. Not everything &uot;cultural&uot; has to have a big name or a grand production.

Back in the 1980s, Charlie Byrd performed when Suffolk High School was operating. Those of us who have heard his music while he was alive can count ourselves as fortunate. True, he was (inter)-nationally known in his field, but Byrd projected an easy, hometown demeanor from the stage. Perhaps the good folks involved in restoring the school to a cultural center can later attract similar talent that appeals to residents.

While I’m on the topic of culture or the lack thereof, was it last week or this week when Americans are urged to turn off their television sets? It hardly matters to me since I usually don’t watch television, at best, PBS. When I’m not reading, but for the most part the DVDs or CDs are spinning at my house. Just last week it was &uot;Fahrenheit 451,&uot; the movie version of the Ray Bradbury novel about a future society that burns books. This is still a chilling story when you consider the rampant illiteracy or even functional illiteracy in this country alone. People aren’t burning books these days, they’re ignoring these treasures, and it shows when talking to those whose lives are focused on the so-called reality shows like &uot;Survivor&uot; or &uot;The Bachelor.&uot; Please, if they want adventure or sex, then they should read &uot;The Old Man and the Sea&uot; or &uot;Tropic of Cancer.&uot;

Stephen H. Cowles is the managing editor and a regular columnist for the News-Herald. He invites you to attend &uot;La Boheme&uot; this Friday in the Harrison Opera House in Norfolk.