Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Intermission - the Example of Anthony Clark Evans - From Back Lot Car Diffs to Centre Stage in Cardiff

Seemingly a million miles away from the investment topics of the auto-sector is the world of operatic singing, and the various competitions that bring forth astounding new talent. The pinnacle of which is the bi-annual event 'Cardiff Singer of the World', held at St David's Hall and sponsored by the BBC.

The operatic news press was abuzz at the 'wild-card' winner Catriona Morrison, given her late arrival from the lower ranks. Alongside the formal recommendation of the expert panel, the public voted for Louise Adler.

[NB This coalescence of Scottish-English winners subtly helping to quell the Scottish independence issue].

Other finalists were of Mongolian, Chinese-Australian and American backgrounds.

But it is the American, Mr Anthony Clark Evans – a baritone - that investment-auto-motives wishes to herald.

Unlike many budding opera singers, who from a young age are recognised as future potential and molded as such, with the multitude of supportive advantages therein from institutional grants to wealthy parents and patrons etc, Mr Clarke Evans had to rely upon himself, his self-determination and natural talent.

As a long-time aspirational singer, this man did all he could to finally get on track toward his goal, never giving-up even when things appeared dire. With such passion for his subject, itself necessarily underpinned by pragmatic real-life choices, he paved his path forward by working as a used car salesman for some time before being signed by Colombia Artists Management.

Those with such talent and appreciation of the higher art-forms usually also endemically have higher notions and expections of life itself and of course themselves. They see things very differently to those around them; focused upon the 'best' rather than the accepted 'standard'.

Thus it must have been painful to his very soul when he was stuck in a Kentucky auto-dealership selling cars and trucks to 'make ends meet'. Not so much the process in itself, though it can be soul destroying, but the fact that his mindset was so radically different to the archetypical mindset of the usual car sales person, who care little beyond 'shifting the metal'. His obvious sensitivity and consciousness must have been trampled in what is a 'cut and thrust' game between cross-town dealers, intra-state dealers and the newer collection of on-line operators.

[NB Perhaps especially regards the availability of dealer finance, a field which so soon after the financial crisis is once again peddling large credit packages to poor credit-history customers with little job security under the notion of low rates so as to sell vehicles].

More than his contemporaries, the achievement of Mr Clark Evans should be not only recognised but loudly applauded.

There is of course a parallel to the life story of Paul Potts – which itself inspired the film 'One Chance' starring James salesman turned opera singer. But the reality of having experienced the art-form, then forced to exist in the 'backwater banality' in a Kentucky town, is (without disrespecting that state) far more a tragedy than comedy.

Even more material in today's world where the upward mobility of so many has been made virtually impossible given the consequences of the 2008 crisis.

Mr Clark Evans is now well known at 'the Met' in New York and a number of other world class opera houses, having worked his way up from his beginnings in 'The Ozarks', well known for roles in La Boheme, Pagliacci and much else.

Today we live in a western-world in which people feel let-down and indeed beaten down, by badly performing economic structures, a lost faith in balanced politics, a fragmented society purported as cohesive, and the media's continual propulsion of celebrity-culture amid the masses who still seek to emulate at great cost, so creating a schizophrenic societal mentality precisely because people's reality is so far from the perceived. Critically the shattering of the post-WW2 'American Dream' in which the rise of 'mental disorders' is itself simply the natural human reaction to a new 'invisible tribe' attitude whereby deep financially-driven hostility is masked by friendliness and so the affects of hidden hypocrisy.

Unsurprisingly, for many a screen-focused existence is far better than the real thing.

In such an age the story of Mr Clark Evans needs to be highlighted more than ever, not told through the Hollywood screen or through Netflix, but in the everyday social intercourse of people.

It would reset the idea of 'everyday ambition' toward 'aspired perfection', and more importantly the ideal of 'everyday perfectionism' (in all things) an attitude which moulds the broad consciousness.

In the meantime it would be wonderful to think that a closer alliance could be formed between the high artistic aims of opera and that of similar world-class automotive exhibitions.

As such, given his professional background, his life's vocation means Mr Clark Evans is the perfect candidate to appear at the renowned events, whether Pebble Beach, Amelia Island, Villa d'Este, Goodwood FoS, Hampton Court, etc which would provide for a level of sublime interaction.

Within popular culture since 1968 it has been the voice of Matt Monroe singing 'On Days Like These' (accompanying the winding drive of a Lamborghini Muira through the Italian Alps) that has been 'the' automotive signature tune

Perhaps it is time for something new in 2018 and onward, whereby each Concour's d' Elegance commissions new unique classical signature tunes. The sound of the human voice and orchestral instruments as counterpoint to the high pitched whine of starter motors and the explosions and tuneful exhausts of IL6's, V8's, V10's, V12's and W16's, would be glorious.

For it has been the creations of the artists of this world who have given life its very meaning for many, especially for those in less than convivial personal circumstances – in a true Rodolfo manner (as per 'La Boheme').

After all, let us not forget that the very basic metal-working shops in which the great carrozzeria performed their own 'rolling sculptures' - Figoni et Filashi, Farina, Pininfarina, Touring, Ghia, Vignale, Zagato, Bertone, Chapron, Vanden Plas, Barker, Mulliner, Park-Ward - were in the winter-times of decades past little different from the cold artistic lofty garrets of painters, poets and playwrights.

(So how poetic it is that one of the automotive artistic greats - Marcello Gandini - who shares the name of a Boheme character, appeared to live 'la dolce vita', created the signature wheel-arch from supercars to coaches, had a father who himself was an orchestral conductor).

Thus it is heart-warming to witness the rise of someone who through ambition, effort and talent has risen to the heady heights of classical singing.

For used car salesmen it was once (and perhaps still is) an old 'trick of the trade' to cure any worrisome audible whine of a car's 'diff' (axle differential) by adding saw-dust into the diff's 'banjo' housing. This and a thousand other tricks inevitably creating the untrustworthy stereotype.

So how prosaic to see a person work their way up from Car Diff's and Banjos to Cardiff and Orchestras.

And just maybe he could create a populist following, via performances at the very successfully resuscitated ACE Cafe in North West London. A place where all kinds of enthusiasts and clubs meet...a new kind of venue which circuitously depicts the man's very own initials.