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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

One thousand random acts of culture…

‘Christmas Present’ photo by Petr Kratochvil
“Whether I was in my body or out of my body as I wrote it I know not. God knows." (Quote attributed to George Frideric Handel in reference to his composing the 'Hallelujah Chorus.'

If this doesn’t get you in the holiday spirit, nothing will.

The results for Black Friday are in, and according to a press release from the National Retail Federation, “212 million shoppers visited stores and websites over Black Friday Weekend,” spending an “estimated $45.0 billion” on holiday shopping.

(And, I thought we were still in a recession.)

Cyber Monday seems to have done impressively well too, according to a press release from ComScore, Inc., which trumpets a headline stating, “Billion Dollar Bonanza: Cyber Monday Surpasses $1 Billion in U.S. Spending as Heaviest Online Shopping Day in History.”

So much for my take on the economy, as millions nationwide are poised to loose extended unemployment benefits as well as their homes to foreclosure in the coming weeks.

Each year the holiday shopping season officially kicks off with the traditional Macy’s parade in New York City, but this year, Macy’s took a bolder step and launched their season (at least in their Philadelphia Center City store) the day before Halloween, when something quite unique occurred; the venerable Opera Company of Philadelphia’s chorus, accompanied by the world’s largest pipe organ (the Wanamaker ) along with 650 other primed voices from the community, launched into a noontime spectacular rendition of George Frideric Handel’s ‘'Hallelujah Chorus.'

The event, that created a massive shopper sing-along was funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation as part of their community outreach program, Random Act of Culture, which endeavors to bring “classical arts out of the concert halls and opera houses and into our communities to enrich our everyday lives.”

Over the next three years, a total of 1,000 Random Acts of Culture will take place in the following cities: Akron, Ohio; Charlotte, N.C.; Detroit, Mich.; Macon, Ga.; Miami, Fla.; Philadelphia, Pa.; San Jose, Calif.; and St. Paul, Minn.

The entire six minutes of glorious music echoed through every balcony and department at Macy’s, and was captured on the video below, which has been viewed by over five million people, and (judging from the comments left on the Knight Foundation site) brought tears to the eyes of those who participated or viewed it online.

In my humble opinion, this wonderful Random Act of Culture, spread more holiday cheer, and did more for the American psyche than any store-bought gift ever could.


BarryGillogly said...

Absolutely marvelous!!

samwise said...

This is so cool! I hope I get to see one of these singing "flash mobs" in person some time. It must be like finding yourself in the middle of a movie musical. ;)

This reminds me of an article I read recently:

Paula Slade said...

Barry - I thought so too and was absolutely taken with the sincerity that was captured on camera.

samwise - I would love to experience this random act too.

Loved the article link you provided - was LOL about the term "pocket orchestra" and "guerrilla performances." IMHO classical music has been around forever and I'm really glad younger generations are finally reinventing how it is performed and where it is performed.

Arlee Bird said...

I love this concept of random acts of culture. I also posted a similar Hallelujah chorus event on my blog today (Thursday 12/2).

Tossing It Out

Paula Slade said...

arlee bird - Very Cool Lee! I'm on my way to see your post. - Great minds think alike! ;-)

dragonfly said...

That was beautiful and moving, thank you for posting it!

Paula Slade said...

dragonfly - You're welcome! Thank you for stopping by and leaving your thoughts. I'm so glad you enjoyed!