(The Muncie Star – Page T-15)

By DAVID SPEAKMAN

Classic Tales of doom and death are recounted in three magnificent ground-breaking works this month on NPR World of Opera, National Public Radio’s continuing series of operatic masterpieces from around the United States and the world.

NPR World of Opera has its season premiere on WBST at 12:30 p.m. Saturday. This trio for the Halloween season starts with the production of Philip Glass’s acclaimed The Fall of the House of Usher, based on the story by Edgar Allen Poe.

Minimalist composer Glass is one of the most prominent and controversial composers on the international music scene, and is known for revising traditional operatic writing, often incorporating high-tech video electronics into his productions.

Glass’s brooding, atmospheric music takes center stage in this production. David Trombley, Dwayne Croft and Sharon Baker sing the roles of the principal characters who lead listeners through Poe’s horror story about an ancestral curse and a premature burial.

The world premiere of Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus by Libby Larson has received wide critical acclaim. The opera is based on the haunting 19th-century novel by Mary Shelley. Libby Larson, regarded as one of America’s brightest young composers, created the work as an exploration of intellectual ambition, technological arrogance and isolation. All the music and vocal parts are electronically mixed.

The month concludes with The Flying Dutchman, the dark tale of a legendary voyager, doomed to roam the Earth for eternity until he can find a woman who is willing to faithful to him “until death.” The opera by Richard Wagner is heard in a production from the world-famous Bayreuth Festspielhaus, the venue Wagner built for his works.

Wagner was inspired to write the opera by a sailor’s tale he heard on board a ship on the North Sea in 1839. The work marked the first time Wagner used musical themes or “leitmotivs.” that now are so closely associated with his work. It was also the first time he used the orchestra more as a character itself than as an accompaniment.

Steve Curwood, host of NPR World of Opera, says, “Each of these operas reflects what I regard as opera’s gift – its magnificence as human symphony, with all the passion, cruelty and beauty of life itself.”

The Model Minority

Hard working parents and smart, obedient children who graduate from the best schools and become top professionals – this is the stereotype of Asian Americans, the so-called “model minority.”

“The Chinese American community abounds with examples that seem to bear out the stereotype, but this is only a partial truth,” says Helen Borten, producer of the first October documentary to air on Horizons, at 5:30 tonight on WBST.

Borton’s story is the first of five documentaries to profile various multicultural groups as they struggle for economic, political and social success at home and abroad.

In her story, “Chinese Americans” Climbing the Golden Mountain,” Borten reports from New York City on the success and the heartbreak of Chinese Americans as they pursue the American dream. Borten says, “School dropouts, youth gangs, garment industry sweatshops, cultural isolation and mental illness are also what many Chinese immigrants encounter after they come to America.”

In the next Horizons October documentary, airing at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 14, producer Scott Schlegel spotlights the music of black women composers who struggle for recognition and acceptance in the male-dominated world of classical music.

In “Black Women Classical Composers,” Schlegel reports that getting classical music published is difficult for anyone, but it is especially hard for women. “There is a belief in the world of classical music publishing that women’s compositions are less deep, less emotionally powerful than men’s,” Schlegel says.

In the coming weeks: “Latino Performing Artists: Art for Troubled Times” and “Daughters of Zion: Women in Israel.”

Storytime

At 11:30 a.m. today The Sound of Writing features “Voice From the Outer Banks” by Richard Hill. This story is the tale of  a woman dead for 175 years who still manages to speak. Richard Hill tells this outlandish tale written by the daughter of Aaron Burr.

Ursula K. LeGuin, one of the most popular authors in the genre of speculative fiction, reads “Texts,” a vignette of a woman trying to escape the pretentious communications of today.

This text of an unnerving message tells of the woman, even alone and in silence, everything she sees seems to be at once of this world and another.

(Ball State Daily News – Page 2 – July 5, 1989) 

By DAVID SPEAKMAN
Staff Writer

An alumnus was recently announced to be a finalist for the Indiana Presidential Award for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Teaching.

If Gary Emmert, a Teacher’s College graduate, wins the competition, he could receive a $7,000 grant to be used for classroom needs and a trip to Washington, D.C. to be recognized by President Bush, the Indiana Department of Education announced.

Emmert was nominated by David Shull, principal of Ben Davis Junior High School in Indianapolis. Shull had previously nominated Emmert for the award in 1988.

“Gary is an outstanding educator. He’s very dedicated and effective at teaching all ability levels. He believes that all kids can learn,” said Shull.

This year Emmert is one of three Indiana finalists for the award in mathematics teaching. State Superintendent of Public Instructions H. Dean Evens said that the winner would be announced during the first week of September.

A national panel of scientists, mathematicians and educators will judge the finalists on the basis of experience, education and professional memberships, recommendations, essays, and proposed use of the awards for classroom activities.

Emmert, nominated for the National Science Foundation award for the second time, works well with others, Shull said. Emmert is also well regarded by fellow teachers. This year he was nominated by his peers for the Wayne Township teacher of the year award.

“Gary is a good team player. He’s no prima donna. He is still humble and admits freely that he learns from those around him,” said Shull.

Emmert also incorporates principles of physics onto his math classes, Shull said. This past year Emmert had his classes do such projects as create a capsule that would protect a raw egg when dropped from the top of the school and design and build boats for a race after the students estimated the amount of water displacement would be caused by the weight of the team.

Emmert also acts as the faculty advisor and founder of the Ben Davis Junior High chapter of Odyssey of the Mind, a national student problem-solving organization.

This year, the team was challenged to come up with a machine that would perform twelve tasks on its own. The team’s gadget won the state championship and placed in the top 15 in the national competition in Boulder, Colo.

The three years of Emmert advising Odyssey of the Mind teams has produced three state championships and placement in the national top 15 twice.

“In the four years that Gary has been at Ben Davis Junior High, he has stood for academic excellence,” Shull said. “I wish we had a school full of teachers like Gary Emmert.”

Emmert is on academic leave for the summer, according to Ben Davis Junior High, and could not be reached by the Daily News for comment.

(Ball State Daily News; Page 1 – June 28, 1989)

BY DAVID SPEAKMAN

The Moral Majority received more credit for political impact than it deserved, said Steve Johnson, professor of sociology.

Jerry Falwell, leader of the Moral Majority disbanded the organization June 11 after taking credit for successfully helping elect President Bush, according to the Associated Press.

“Falwell called it ‘mission accomplished;’ my position is that it was mission aborted,’ Johnson said.

Reagan’s margin of victory would have been larger in 1984 if the moral majority didn’t exist, Johnson said. Reagan won because of economic issue instead of religious moral issues.

Johnson appeared on national radio last Wednesday to discuss his surveys of voters in 1980, 1984 and 1998 as a part of the continuing Middletown Studies.

The studies are based on the assumption that Muncie is representative of the average American town and have been widely accepted for decades.

The surveys are published in The Political Role of Religion of the United Stateswhich was co-edited by Joseph Tamney, professor of sociology.

The results of the survey showed that religion had very little effect at the voting booth, Johnson said.

Supporters of the Christian right tend not to vote. The supporters also were less educated, more likely to be elderly and more politically conservative than the majority of the populace, he said.

“A typical Christian rightist thinks homosexuals have way too many rights, thinks a woman;s most important role is that of a mother and housekeeper and watches a lot of religious television.” Johnson said.

The popularity of he Christian right is not high, Johnson said. His data shows the public agreement with the Moral Majority peaked around 20 percent. At that time 40 percent of voters were against Jerry Falwell’s organization. Johnson noted that the endorsement Reagan received from the Moral Majority in 1984 actually caused more people to vote for Walter Mondale.

“Falwell and Robertson appealed to people who really don;t give a rip about actually voting,” Johnson said. “People were scared of Pat Robertson and his ultra-conservative supporters.”

Susan Klingel, instructor of speech communication, theorized that the Christian right movement failed to get his message across effectively.

“They could have done things to be more successful. They were hitting so many areas they could have had a large impact, but didn’t have the power to hold the attention of the public,” Klingel said.

The Moral Majority was too negative and their comments and concepts were too narrow to appeal to the public at large, Klingel said. Falwell’s organization was a rule-oriented type of structure and operated under a “thou shalt not” doctrine, she added.

The Christian right could have been more successful if it communicated to the public more like the Christian left, Klingel said.

Johnson said the Christian left, headed by the Rev. Jesse Jackson, focuses on the broad issues of helping the disadvantaged, working for broadened civil rights and eliminating the arms race. He added, the Christian left would like to meet with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to discuss arms reductions on a moral high ground.

Although Jackson has a larger base of supporters, his association with religion is a liability, Johnson said.

“Americans don’t want religious principles in the political arena. Americans believe in the separation of church and state. The church rules in Iran. Look at the mess there.” he said and then asked, “If religion gets into American politics, whose are we to use> Jerry Falwell’s? Pat Robertson’s? What about the Jews?”

The reason for Jackson’s success compared to Pat Robertson in 1998 was because Jackson didn’t wear his religion on his sleeve, Johnson said. Robertson, unlike Jackson, gave political speeches with every other reference to the Bible.

“You can’t have a political debate when the Bible is constantly brought up,” Johnson said.

Jackson has never held an elected office and needs to get practical experience like the mayorship of Washington, D.C., Johnson said. Jackson would have been more successful if he had spent a few years in congress.

Bill Gray, the House of Representatives’ Democratic Whip. who is also a minister has a bright future, Unlike Jackson, Gray focused his political career on holding elected office, Johnson said.

Religion has had little impact on politics in the 1980s, but it has had impact in the past, he said. In the 1960s, Martin Luther King, Jr. accomplished his civil rights victories by mobilizing black churches.

Still, people don’t want to be preached at from the White House, Johnson said. “Americans view religion as a private part of their lives, not something to vote on.”