What did the New Year's Eve PBS broadcast "live From Lincoln Center" and the New Year's Day Outback Bowl have in common? Stumped?
Live from Lincoln Center featured the New York Philharmonic playing an all Tchaikovsky concert. The program included an energetic performance of the Second Act of the Nutcracker. As the television camera panned the stage it was clear that the orchestra.included someone special. Tchaikovsky's popular score was written at the end of his life, in the same decade that the celesta was invented. The celesta is like a piano crossed with a wind chime and Tchaikovsky made it the sound of the Sugar Plum Fairy. Last night the instrument was played by an 86 year old woman. I have not been able to discover her name.
Today, the Penn State Nittany Lions played the Florida Gators in the Outback Bowl. On the sidelines, as he has been for 61 years was 83 year old Coach Joe Paterno.
In 1950, the Government of Japan began to designate certain individuals who embody intangible national cultural values as living human treasures. Coach Paterno and the celesta player are surely such treasures - pursuing their passion in their ninth decade. They personify the pioneering determination that settled the West and went to the moon. I was lucky to see both performances.