Friday, April 29, 2011

Opera for the Family

As this week's interview makes clear, Joseph Rubin loves comic opera.  As he describes it, comic opera is sort of the generation in between traditional opera and musical theater.  While everyone may not find the operettas performed by the Canton Comic Opera Company as hilarious as he does, this form of musical theater can be great fun -- especially if you're into the history of popular culture, as I am.  Just look at the images Rubin's group uses to promote their shows -- old sheet music covers.

Like the album covers from my childhood, these images promoted popular music, offering not only a chance to hear the songs (before recorded music, if you wanted to enjoy a popular song at home, you played it on your own piano while your sister sang) but also to see the performers and get a sense of the feel of the show and the early decades of twentieth-century history when it was first produced. 

That kind of enjoyable, even silly way of looking at history is probably worth a drive to Canton.  This year's season begins June 9, with Little Johnny Jones

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Experienced Advice for Small Business Owners

Terry Diederick is enthusiastic about small business and its potential here in the Mahoning Valley.  He works as a mentor with SCORE, an organization that connects small business people with experienced advisors, many of whom are themselves former small business people.  Not only does he enjoy the work and appreciate his colleagues, he believes that this community offers many opportunities for small businesses to thrive.

While I'm less sure than Terry is that transportation and warehousing are going to grow here, I do share his view that small businesses may hold the key to this area's economic stability.  On the same day we recorded our interview, I spoke with a first-year class at YSU, who asked me one of the questions I get asked most often:  what will it take for Youngstown to once again become the thriving community it once was?  I always start by saying that it will never again be what it was.  That is, we will never have a single industry that creates not only  prosperity but also community cohesion.  We still make and form metals, and we still make cars, but neither industry will ever again be as large as it once was, nor does any contemporary industry work that way.  Youngstown's future relies on smaller-scale business, and to make that work, we need to tap into the expertise of people like Terry and his colleagues at SCORE.