In the musical “Fiddler on the Roof,” Russian Jew Tevye — caught up in a changing world and age-old prejudice — extols the virtues of “Tradition” in his signature number.
He has a point. There is much to be said about following a well-worn path and sticking with the tried and true. There is comfort, nostalgia and relaxation to be found in tradition. And when it comes to the arts, I would never discourage anyone from attending a show or event that has come to mean something special and personal over the years.
So if you can’t start the holiday season without a performance of “The Nutcracker,” go see it again. If you love hearing the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra’s rousing rendition of our national anthem at each season’s opening classics-series concert, get your tickets now.
Never missed a Christmas in the Park or Mount Dora Festival of the Arts? Mark your calendars for the next installments. Do you always buy a season subscription to Opera Orlando, the Bach Festival Society of Winter Park or a particular theater? Make sure you have renewed.
But I feel I must caution you that if that’s the extent of your cultural commitment, you are missing so much. Because every tradition has to start somewhere; at some point, someone took a gamble on the unknown. There is always a thrill in discovering something new — be it a new play, a new piece of music or even a whole new genre of artistry. Opera, anyone? Ballet? Oratorio? You might be surprised at your emotional response.
The arts are designed not only to refresh our spirit but to stimulate our intellect and pique our curiosity. If you see an interesting-sounding play in this year’s Arts Season Preview listings, give it a try. Maybe it’s at a theater you’ve never attended… that’s all the better.
Does a provocative art exhibit sound as though it might rile you up? Make you contemplate a new idea or a different perspective? Make a beeline for it. Art is meant to destroy complacency. It should make us think, make us feel and, yes, sometimes make us angry.
In “Fiddler on the Roof,” Tevye comes to learn that tradition alone isn’t enough to sustain the human spirit. We must honor tradition while finding new paths to trod, new discoveries to energize us, new ways to experience life.
I hope during the 2023-24 arts season you experience a concert, play, recital, exhibit or event that feels like a warm reunion with a comforting old companion — and that you also seek one out that feels like an energizing introduction to a rejuvenating new friend.
Follow me at facebook.com/matthew.j.palm or email me at [email protected]. Find more arts news and reviews at orlandosentinel.com/arts, and go to orlandosentinel.com/theater for theater news and reviews.