Monday, June 5, 2023

Pomp and Circumstance

Friday morning I was walking in Delaware Park and horsing with my Seek app when all of a sudden I heard this blare of music -- music that could not be ignored.

It was Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1.

You know, the famous graduation theme. What a march, when you stop and listen to it, which I did.

It was coming from nearby Nichols School. Nichols School is a few doors from my house and it is the premier august prep school in Buffalo. They were holding graduation in the courtyard. I walked around a bunch of trees and saw a big crowd gathered, many dressed in light colors on this 90 degree day.  I am guessing it was the school band playing the march. 

Then the band took it up a notch, switching to Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance March No. 2. Then back again.

I actually got shivers! Good on Nichols.

This is how graduation should be done.

We did not do it that way when I graduated from the, ahem, Buffalo Academy of the Sacred Heart. Our graduation was at Kleinhans Music Hall and we drifted down the aisles in our white gowns to the tune of Diana Ross singing the theme from "Mahogany." This was in 1979.

Whose bright idea this was, and why the Sacred Heart authorities said yes to it, who knows. Sacred Heart is no school to be sneezed at -- it goes back to 1879. I can tell you the year because we were the 100th graduating class. And to top things off there were exactly 100 girls in our class. How about that? It is like the "Madeleine" books.

However as Miss Clavell would put it, something was just not right.

I do not have the satisfaction of remembering graduating to the theme of Elgar's "Pomp and Circumstance" march. That is just wrong.

The theme from "Mahogany," I literally never heard it before or since that one occasion. It was pretty enough, nothing against that. It was just not an important piece of music. And in retrospect my graduation looks kind of trivial. I was cheated out of a proper graduation.

As the saying goes, paint a Model T any color as long as it's black.

Play any music for graduation as long as it's Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance March. 

At the top of this post is a video I love. It is Sir Edward Elgar himself conducting his Pomp and Circumstance March on Nov. 12, 1931 for the opening of the Abbey Road Studios When marches were marches, and knights were knights.

"Good morning, gentlemen. ... Please play this tune as though you have never played it before."


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