The other day I found myself scratching my head a bit at a press release from an organization I confess I had never heard of— the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony Orchestra — on the occasion of, drumroll please, their 18th anniversary, their “Chai” anniversary.
“A Chai anniversary has its roots in the Hebrew word for ‘life,’ which is Chai, with its Hebrew letters adding up to the number 18. For this reason, the number 18 is a spiritual number in Judaism and represents a time to reflect, remember and celebrate,”the release explained.
My legions of faithful regular readers will doubtless both remember that I do not respond enthusiastically to anniversaries that are multiples of five and ten. Seven, I have more than once proclaimed in this spot, is of far more intrinsic interest than ten. Many a publicist in town can attest to the fact that the 10th or 20th or 40th anniversary big story idea they have floated my way has found itself dashed on the rocks of editorial indifference. “Forty? Wow! That’s only two years away from 42. Now that’s a really important one!”
So imagine my delight at receiving the above-mentioned LAJSO release about their BIG 18th anniversary! It adds another arrow to my bow, another argument the next time someone comes along and says it’s time to worship at the shrine of ten!
Come to think of it, 18 is what The WholeNote will turn this year.“A time to reflect, remember and celebrate,” indeed. Thank you LAJSO!
And wait, there’s more! Since 81 is simply the mirror image of 18, it stands to reason that the organizers of all this September’s various Glenn Gould 80th anniversary celebrations should cool their jets, and wait one more year before starting the hollering and hooting. Same goes for Murray Schafer (80). Sorry Murray.
There’s a problem though, isn’t there? Even an extra year won’t be enough time to convince the public at large that it is important for their spiritual health to re-learn their nine times tables. That’s the thing, isn’t it? Multiplying by ten is as easy as one, two, three. So if you were expecting me to say “bah, humbug” yet again to the power of ten, I am sorry. I surrender. Henceforth the number ten rules: from our cover story coverage of the two-day Glenn Gould Variations summit at Convocation Hall; to Andrew Timar’s highly personal take on the 100th anniversary of the birth of another musical titan, John Cage; to David Olds’ reflections on the 25th anniversary of Naxos Canada. I mean, everyone knows 25 is a sort of ten!
And don’t expect it to stop with this issue either. As the season unfolds, expect to see us tip the hat to some particularly notable 40ths: Esprit Orchestra, Soundstreams and Toronto Consort, to name but three.
It’s a slippery slope, I grant you. I can already hear the aforementioned publicists sharpening their digital pencils on behalf of clients who have reached 10 or 20, or 25, or 30 this year.
Even worse, in the distance I hear a rumble of discontent from some of the notable 40s to whose anniversaries only last year we turned a blind eye. Every flip flop has its consequences. So to them I say, cheer up! You’re only a year away from 42. As I said to Bob Aitken on page 28, now that’s a really important one!
As for The WholeNote, 18 feels like a really fine milestone to be reaching. Mind you, it will probably take us another two years to organize the party, anyway!
And in the meanwhile, l’chaim! To life.
—David Perlman, firstname.lastname@example.org