The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Friday, May 16, 2003  

The Sounds of Music in North Dakota

Now and again I get the urge to chuck it all, what "all" there is these days, and move to some remote location, someplace quiet, or a place that at least moves and works at a slower pace.

Since graduate school I have lived in Washington, D.C., New York, and Philadelphia. I love all three cities very much, and am much inclined to urban living, but sometimes I just want to run away to someplace like North Dakota or West Virginia (both quiet and slower paced, at least in my imagination) or Key West, Fla. (slower paced, if not more quiet).

I've been told this is a not untypical personality profile for a Virgo like myself. Take that for what it's worth.

With this in mind, and having grown up in a small village in the middle of nowhere in Upstate New York, I was intrigued to read about the National Symphony Orchestra's recent performances in North Dakota. ("North Dakota, When It's For Music Lovers," by James R. Oestreich, the New York Times, May 11.)

In reading about the orchestra's tour through the state, I was struck by this passage:

Mariah Rittel, a fifth-grader at Dorothy Moses Elementary School in Bismarck, may have said it best in a letter of thanks to the orchestra: "I play the saxophone. There are four people in orchestra and nine people in band, including me. I really, really, really, really, really like you people as a group. I love you people. Hope your group comes back to Bismarck, N.D. You people are really important."

A band consisting of nine players. Gee whiz, North Dakota may be even smaller, at least in population, than I think.

[Post-publication addendum: (May 17): Thanks to reader D.I. for correcting my error. The original post said the New York Philharmonic was touring. I've corrected the mistake.]

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