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Storm in a Milli Vanilli-flavoured Tea Cup

by SHELL SHERREE

Uh-oh. A storm has been brewing in a Milli Vanilli-flavoured teacup.

Rewind back to the inauguration ceremony of President Barack Obama last week. The pomp. The circumstance. {Rightly so.} The rejoicing and celebrations. {Even more rightly so.} The fridgy-didge weather that would freeze the balls off a brass monkey and be rather uncharitable to those of a real one. {Not ideally so.}

Picture this. You're Yo-Yo Ma or Itzhak Perlman, world renowned cellist and violinist respectively. You're about to play at one of the most significant events in history. Millions standing before you. Countless millions more tuning in from lounge rooms, bars and possibly outer space.

In these arctic temperatures, you and your quartet companions, including pianist Gabriela Montero and Metropolitan Opera clarinet player Anthony McGill, are about to perform a piece arranged by Oscar-winning composer, John Williams. {No, not the theme from Superman or Indiana Jones, though both would have been fitting.}

The piece is 'Air and Simple Gifts', a shaker tune with John Williams' signature written all over it, including his trademark soaring solo strings which tug on those of the heart. An old patriotic dog given a new lead studded with hope.

There's just one slight problem.

Your instrument is made of wood, a natural material which changes with the thermometer. Your fingers are made of - err, fingers, another natural material which changes with the thermometer. Blood is supposed to flow through them but it's freezing one second after being pumped out of your heart and you could make a snow cone out of it. {A disturbing image ... one the Coen Brothers may like to borrow.}

What to do? In these temperatures, there's every chance a string could break, a reed could split or your nose could drop off. What a dampener on ceremonies that would be.

The sensible precaution was taken by the producers to accompany the quartet's live performance with a recording they made ahead of time. This recording was broadcast over the loudspeakers and televised to lounge rooms, bars and possibly outer space {a bonding opportunity sorely missed by snubbing E-T and Close Encounters of the Third Kind in favour of a folk tune}. Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak and - err, the other two valiantly played anyway but if the unthinkable had happened, the show would have gone on.

Now that the recording has been revealed, the allegations have been flying. And prize for Most Ridiculous Comparison surely goes to the Milli Vanilli one.

Rewind further back to the late 1980s. Milli Vanilli became an accidental sensation and won the Best New Artist Grammy in 1990. MV was fronted by Fab and Rob, supposedly a pair of dudes with smooth voices, girl hair and impeccable six-packs. Imagine the embarrassment when it turned out they were actually just a pair of dudes with girl hair and impeccable six-packs. {I hope they hadn't got around to engraving the Grammy before they had to give it back.} To be fair, though, the boys could hold a tune; their producer just happened to think others could carry it better.

Clearly the line drawn between Milli Vanilli and living legends Yo-Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman {not to forget what's-their-names} is wobbly and childish at best. {Kind of like a right hander trying to write left handed with a pencil in zero degrees celsius temperatures.}

You only have to look at their hair.

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