Photo: Timothy A. Clary/AFP.
The fairy-tale dénouement of the US Open women’s singles was an even more intense and moving contest than anyone dared imagine. Just exhilarated by this rare moment in sporting history, to celebrate youthful inspiration I’d like to offer a wacky little playlist in homage to both players—a paean to migration, riffing freely on their cultural backgrounds. Some of these connections may be approximate, but you get the idea.
Conveniently, my soundtrack for Emma Raducanu (“london|toronto|shenyang|bucharest“) (TEN MATCHES without dropping a set!!!) can also serve the valuable function of irritating Priti Patel and Piers Morgan…
Her mum Zhai Dongmei 翟冬梅 comes from Shenyang in northeast China:
- so here’s a powerful, majestic, gritty shawm band from nearby Liaoyang (#6 in the Music Player as you scroll way down in the sidebar of this blog, with commentary here)—two players striving in unison, occasionally pulling apart, with the drum evoking the sound of the tennis ball (the very opening perhaps satirising Nadal’s pre-serve routine)?! See also Ritual groups of Liaoning; and click here for Emma speaking excellent Chinese (Yeah I know…).
From her dad’s part of the world,
- the nuance and exuberance of Transylvanian fiddle: master fiddler Sandor “Neti” Fodor with Muzsikás (see under Musical cultures of east Europe):
- From the Canadian background of Emma’s parents, some Inuit throat-singing—another joyous ritualised game (whereas both Emma and Leylah are decorously silent on court, perhaps this evokes a speeded-up soundtrack of the vocalisations of certain other tennis players):
- Moving on to, um, Bromley, how about David Bowie:
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Just as inspiring—both on court and for a playlist!—is Emma’s opponent Leylah Fernandez.
For the Philippine heritage of her mum,
- the elegant passion of nanguan (nanyin) ballads from the Hokkien diaspora of southeast China:
Leyla’s dad comes from Ecuador, suggesting a somewhat imprecise connection with
- festive wind bands from the Bolivian Andes (see Music and the potato), grounded in seasonal rituals (Wimbledon and the other majors):
And for the family’s Canadian heritage,
- in French-Celtic mode, the irresistible energy of La bottine souriante playing La tuque rouge:
- along with Leonard Cohen: