When members of Wasilla High School’s symphonic jazz choir heard Friday it wouldn’t be singing the popular Queen hit “Bohemian Rhapsody” at this year’s graduation ceremony after working on it all year, the students couldn’t get their heads around it.Probasco - who is a long-time friend of mine - is backtracking away from this as being about Freddie Mercury's sexual orientation:
WHS Principal Dwight Probasco reportedly had received complaints from at least one parent that the 1975 hit written by Freddie Mercury wasn’t appropriate for the ceremony simply because Mercury was gay.
“The whole thing was just ridiculous,” senior Rachel Clark said Monday. “They’d played the song on the school intercom and we played it at prom. It’s a great song and the choir was really excited to be singing it. And the senior class felt like it defined them.”
Choir member Casey Hight, a junior, was angry enough to contact a gay and lesbian support organization in Anchorage for help. They told her to contact an attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union.My feathers are ruffled. If Wasillians are going to be consistent, they'll need to ban the following composers and their work:
“I felt like the school was discriminating for sexual orientation and I felt it was wrong,” Hight said Monday. “It’s so stupid because there’s nothing sexual in the song. There aren’t even any cuss words.”
Although Probasco wouldn’t comment on the issue Monday, Senior Class Advisor Deb Haynes said Probasco has now agreed to allow the choir to sing an edited version of Bohemian Rhapsody that doesn’t include lyrics in one section about killing a man.
“The kids had put a lot of time into the song, but at graduation we really try to accommodate anything that might be a sensitive issue for anybody,” Haynes said, adding she didn’t understand why the song would have been a problem in the first place. “I’ve heard it a hundred times and it’s never bothered me.”
Hight said she believes Probasco decided to put the song back on the graduation program because he didn’t want any problems with the ACLU.
Clark said it didn’t make sense for the school district to tout tolerance for all and then turn around and allow homophobia to dictate something such as graduation music.
“We were joking about singing Elton John’s ‘Candle in the Wind,’ instead,” Clark said. “I guess no matter what you do, someone’s feathers are going to get ruffled.”
Samuel Barber - No more Adagio for Strings, DwightJoking aside, one might hope that on the eve of his retirement, Dwight Probasco would have shown a bit more resistance to this kind of pressure. And - once again - the crazies and their pull ghelp my hometown make the national news.
Leonard Bernstein - Don't you dare play anything from West Side Story, my friend
Aaron Copland - Watch out for those hidden messages in Fanfare for the Common Man
Noël Coward - no more Mad Dogs & Englishmen
Charles Tomlinson Griffes - careful, Dwight, a piece for flute or piano might sneak into a solo and ensemble contest
Elton John - empty the sky, Dwight. Right now!
Dave Koz - he was a hit in Anchorage, but don't play his version of White Christmas at WHS
k.d. lang - put her in Shadowland forever, Dwight
Gian Carlo Menotti - those little operas have been done at thousands of high schools, but keep away from Dwight
Cole Porter - there go about 500 really good songs, Dwight
Stephen Sondheim - Gypsy, West Side Story, A Little Night Music or Company. Oh - wait! West Side Story's already banned because of Lenny
Billy Strayhorn - Can't Take the A Train if you're a WHS Warrior
Peter Tchaikovsky - What was the secret message in The Nutcracker, Dwight?
image - my friend Dwight Probasco with his long-lost twin, Elton John
hat tip - Joe McGinniss