Commentary: When 'Dancing with the Stars' Gets Classical

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It used be a regular occurrence to hear classical music on network TV in prime time, particularly in the '50s and '60s. Leonard Bernstein had his own TV show. You could see Itzhak Perlman or Joan Sutherland on, for example, "The Ed Sullivan Show." Throughout the '70s and '80s, you could actually count on there being classical music on basic-cable channels. By the start of the new century, that all seemed to disappear to the world of reality shows and games.

But if you look, and not that hard, you’ll notice a quiet return of classical music to the airwaves. "America’s Got Talent" has featured a handful of classical (or semi-classical) artists. One might question their level of professionalism, but, please, let that go. Let’s all just be thankful an attempt is being made.

This week, one of the hottest shows on TV today, "Dancing with the Stars," has embraced classical music for the second year in a row. Our leading ambassador of hot hunky violin playing, Joshua Bell, will be featured Monday night playing Vivaldi’s Summer from The Four Seasons. We are told he won’t dance, but we can only hope. But you will see Welsh mezzo-soprano Kathrine Jenkins dance.

Also scheduled to sing is Jackie Evancho, the now 12-year-old American sensation. I know I hear toes curling around the classical music world over this little girl. But let’s remember Mozart was that age when he was trotted out on tour.

Also on hand will be the Italian tenor Vittorio Grigolo, who once performed with Pavarotti.

Among the dance tunes you’ll hear will be a Viennese waltz, tango, a Spanish dance in addition to the Vivaldi.

I think Ed Sullivan would be proud.