Like many I have been following the progress of participation in the Ice Bucket Challenge, conceived to promote both awareness of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and to encourage donations to support research in the study of its causes, prevention, and treatment. While many may view this as an overblown publicity stunt, I have been impressed by those who command a particularly “bully pulpit” agreeing to participate. Still, I was a bit disappointed that I had not encountered any word of the participation of major figures in the world of classical music.
For those unfamiliar with the process, the whole thing is driven by social networking. Once one has agreed to pour a bucket of ice water over one’s head, one can then nominate (challenge) others to do the same. After doing a bit of probing through Google, I discovered that Formula 1 champion Fernando Alonzo took the Challenge, probably through his connections in the sports world; and, having participated, he then nominated fellow Spaniard Plácido Domingo. As might be expected, Domingo accepted the Challenge; and the YouTube video of his participation was uploaded this past August 23. Having now entered the social network, Domingo has extended challenges to both Anna Netrebko and Lang Lang.
Not to be outdone, the folks at Warner Classics have just uploaded a YouTube video of Maria Callas accepting the Challenge. (Callas was a featured artist on the EMI Classics label, which has now been absorbed into Warner Classics.) This is, admittedly, a bit contrived; but there is a quiet wit in using Callas singing “Vissi d’arte” (I lived for art) on the soundtrack. Wit is also there in the closing frame that extends the Challenge to Renata Tebaldi. Nevertheless, the serious intentions behind the Challenge are still honored by providing the URL for ALS donations in that closing frame and putting an active hyperlink in the About notes.
Who will be the first “full-time” conductor (since Domingo now conducts in addition to singing) to be given the Challenge?