Juilliard to Add Football Program in 2010; Renowned Cellist Yo-Yo Ma to Lead Search Committee for Head Coach
Juilliard freshman Gunther Paulsson displays "game face" before taking the field for intra-campus exhibition football game. Paulsson plans on trying out for a position on the team's offensive line, where his heft, booming baritone and heroic golden pigtails are best suited.
NEW YORK, NY (Sportsman’s Daily Wire Service)— If you can knock out two flawless etudes, break off a dazzling solo and nail a representative sampling of standard orchestral excerpts – all under the withering scrutiny of the school’s famously demanding faculty -- you stand a chance of playing Juilliard football in the fall of 2010. With more musical prodigies per square inch than perhaps anywhere else on earth, Juilliard is the last place one would expect to have a football program. But in just two years, the fabled Juilliard campus will fill with the sounds of Chopin, Mozart and the violent cacophony of helmets colliding in ¾ time.
“For years, famous alums and board members lobbied for a football program on par with the Ivies,” said Juilliard President Joseph W. Polis. “We’ve resisted, since the fierce contact you tend to see in football is not automatically conducive to world class musicianship. I don’t care if you’re a 275 pound cellist or an oboist built like a brick shithouse, you get caught under a pile of Harvard undergrads, you’re putting your fingering technique at grave risk.”
But influential alums, like celebrated cello virtuoso Yo-Yo Ma, prevailed upon to Polis to consider adding a football program, after a three year intra-campus experiment with an organized flag football league.
“Granted, you’re not going to see a classically trained bassoonist taken out by a late hit in a flag football game, but it gave skeptics an idea of how football could help shape a young musician’s ability to perform in the rough and tumble of the recital hall. The task before us is to find a head coach that understands Juilliard’s mission and values and can work with highly-talented, emotionally fragile youngsters who can be taught to apply proper bowing technique to pass defense. We may have to think outside the box on this, since the only person that immediately springs to mind is Zubin Mehta, and he’s booked through 2012.”
While eleven year old violin prodigy Sasha Rabinowitz will have graduated before then, he can’t wait to see Juilliard’s finest suiting up and “knocking the snot out of Princeton and Yale,” though he does have some understandable reservations.
“Put us up against the Princeton marching band, no prob. But real football with real tackling? I don’t know where they’re going to get players from. There are tons of kids like me running around who couldn’t even attend a game unless accompanied by an adult. Woodwinds and strings, they’re wimps even by music geek standards. Guys in the composition track are too caught up in theory to play organized sports of any kind. I’ve seen some beefy brass players walking around campus and a percussionist or two who might have game. And there are a handful of tenors in the opera section that are pushing 300 lbs., though they tend too fatigue easily. But if we were to play MIT tomorrow, we’d get crushed -- and what can possibly be more embarrassing than getting pounded by a bunch of chemical engineers who don’t know a bass clef from a cleft palate.”
Butch Summers, leader of the Brown marching band, is already geared up for a battle of the marching bands. "Hey, going head to head with their number one flautist, we'd get killed, no question. But working the valves on the move? Whole different ballgame -- this ain't the conservatory, jack. We're gonna be bringing it."
Yo-Yo Ma adamantly refuses to “in any way compromise the school’s rigorous standards of musicianship” in order to field a competitive football team.
“I don’t care if you’re 260 and can run a 4.2 forty, if you can’t handle a tricky Bach fugue or a difficult Liszt sonata, there’s no place for you at Juilliard. But if you are 260 and do run a 4.2 forty, you may want to consider a less demanding musical passage for your entrance audition – an imaginatively re-arranged Billy Joel composition, for instance -- or simply apply to our drama division. On second thought, you may want to apply to the dance division, which is probably the easiest to get into, but then again, I don’t know how many parts in the classic dance repertory call for men that size.”
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