Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Fifth Avenue to be Renamed

New York, Tuesday 23 August 2011

It was today announced that Fifth Avenue – one of the most recognisable street names in the world – will from next year be called Dan Schutte Avenue.  The news comes just two days after a hymn written by Schutte – an American Catholic music composer – was sung at the Final Mass of World Youth Day in Madrid celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI.  A spokesperson for the Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg (not himself a Catholic) said that the street will be renamed in honour of the composer in much the same way that other countries recognise their great artists.  The spokesperson gave the example – in Madrid, the host city of WYD – of Calle del Maestro Victoria (pictured below), a reference to the Spanish Renaissance polyphonist considered by many as the greatest composer of Catholic music ever to have lived, with the possible exception of the Italian maestro Palestrina.  

Yet, unlike Schutte, the music of T. L. de Victoria, the 400th anniversary of whose death is celebrated this very year, was not featured in the Final Mass of World Youth Day.  Unconfirmed reports suggest that one WYD official defended the use of Schutte’s music saying that it was ‘specially suited’ to the Roman Rite.  According to a source close to the event, another official, exercising a greater degree of circumspection, likened Schutte’s music to American fast food which is now ubiquitous outside the country of origin – known to be of questionable benefit but readily consumed nevertheless.  Yet another official, when asked why Victoria’s music was not sung at the Mass despite him being perhaps the finest composer of Catholic music Spain has ever produced, and it being the anniversary of his death, and Madrid (the host city of WYD) being the capital of Spain (and a place where the maestro wrote much of his music), is reputed to have said “Que?” (It is not known whether the official hailed from Barcelona).   

When contacted for comment, an official official, on condition of anonymity, said that there was no cause for complaint as other cities, such as Sydney and London, had adequately covered the anniversary of Victoria’s death with Masses and music concerts and that those disappointed at the dearth of Victoria’s music at WYD in Spain should simply make plans to travel to these other countries for satisfaction.  (He then also mentioned that another reason Victoria’s music was not sung was that the Mass was not a concert and any resemblance that the WYD Final Mass bore to one was simply coincidental.  He then also murmured something about active participation by the faithful but failed to expatiate on the point when pressed).  

It is not known what reaction there will be from New Yorkers and from others to the news that Fifth Avenue is imminently to be renamed.   

2011 TIC Media and agencies.  

Maestro Victoria Street, Madrid (sign c. 1941)
* Date of birth and death now known to be 1548 and 1611 respectively