If not for the myopic and ethnocentric views of idiots, the Missouri Southern International Piano Competition would be celebrating its 25th anniversary this spring.
From 1987-2008, Vivian Leon and her board and her staff of one and her volunteers made musical magic happen every other year. They also made Joplin a destination for some of the world’s greatest pianists and music educators. It cost Missouri Southern very little, yet it delivered very much.
So what should we do with such a wildly successful program that brings class and prestige to the university and the city? That’s right. RTV, along with his backup singers — Mighty Dwight and the Whites — drowned it like a bag of rats.
They will tell you that Vivian Leon retired. We guess that Mrs. Leon and her board would say that, too. But it isn’t completely true.
The university provided the MSIPC a secretary and office space. Virtually every other possible cost was made up by the organization. Steinways were delivered by truck by piano dealers honored to be part of the program. Patrons and their family members stuffed envelopes and sorted applications. And Vivian Leon worked tirelessly to make the competition make MSSU look fabulous.
And if you never saw her smile, you weren’t around for long. People loved her and worked for her. And they have told Watch members that very thing.
Area residents took in contestants as host families. What an opportunity for cross-cultural awareness. What a rewarding experience for everyone.
You know what else? And you might want to listen up here, Jesus a Go Go. They gave. As in donation. As in money. As in Jo Jo a Go Go’s cash flow is a No No. The university saw the MSIPC as a competitor for a finite amount of money and killed it. The fact that it was a Leon-related enterprise was a bonus for them. Like that crazy-ass sun-worshiping pharoah, they want to wipe the name Leon from the public view. But a lot of those donors may not be coming back. You don’t get rich being dumb or imperceptive.
The universe unfolds for a reason. And if we had the MSIPC, we would have kept the Leons in Joplin. And the University of Colorado-Pueblo would have been denied the class and progress Julio Leon brought there. Our loss. Their gain.
Kind of the Bruce W. Speck refrain. It is a shame. We traded class for crass. And even those of you who didn’t like the MSIPC or the Leons are left to face the music now.