Monday, 29 March 2010

Music and Politics in the Real World? Jerusalem Quartet - Mozart and Ravel, 29 March 2010

Wigmore Hall

Mozart – String Quartet no.21 in D major, KV 575
Ravel – String Quartet in F major

Alexander Pavlovsky and Sergei Bresler (violins)
Amihai Grosz (viola)
Kyril Zlotnikov (violoncello)

I have never been to a musical performance like this, and hope that I shall never do so again. That could be the prelude to a savage attack; rest assured that it is not. It could be the prelude to a performance so unbearable in its intensity that, like Wagner’s fears for a great performance of Tristan, it would be injurious to one’s sanity. This, however, has nothing directly to do with the performance, excellent and – in the circumstances – almost incredible, but rather with events that unfolded in the concert hall. I do not wish to sensationalise; at the same time, I think it would be disingenuous not to deal with some at least of the issues that arose, not least since it would be a wholly inaccurate account of my experience, were I to put them to one side.

Arriving in the nick of time for the concert, I registered a couple of policeman outside the Wigmore Hall, along with someone who seemed to be handing out leaflets. Insofar as I gave the matter thought at all, I vaguely wondered whether this might be a Palestinian issue, but was in too much of a rush to consider matters further. The hall was packed: not always typical of a BBC lunchtime recital but, by the same token, not necessarily atypical either. Having greatly enjoyed the evening recital from these players (plus Lawrence Power) of Mozart and Debussy a couple of night before, I was very keen to hear the present programme. The Mozart D major quartet, KV 575, opened with many of the virtues heard in the previous programme’s Mozart works, albeit with a recognition of the greater profundity of the present work vis-à-vis the early quartet on Saturday. (Then we had also heard the G minor quintet, quite a different matter.) This was a fully mature conversation, all the more so given the imperative handed to the composer to write a prominent cello part. The commissioner, the King in Prussia – not of Prussia, as is often mistakenly claimed – was himself a cellist and had also engaged the services of the celebrated Jean-Pierre Duport as director of chamber music (hence Mozart’s Duport Variations). The consequence is, as Anthony Burton pointed out in his programme notes, that Mozart made ‘everybody in turn a soloist,’ heightening the contrapuntal interplay that was in any case characteristic of his late style. That was something clearly relished by all of the Jerusalem Quartet’s players; it would be invidious to single out any of them, though I cannot resist putting a special mention the way of violist, Amihai Grosz. (Not for nothing was this Mozart’s favoured instrument as a quartet player himself.) The tempo seemed just right, likewise phrasing and the timing and weighting of climaxes.

On to the Andante. The sweetness of first violinist Alexander Pavlovsky’s tone struck me immediately, but almost as quickly did the players’ perfect counterpoise between harmony and counterpoint: absolutely fundamental to Mozart, yet so abominably difficult to achieve. (And the pay off is that it sounds ‘right’, rather than impressive in the virtuoso sense.) This is not a movement I should expect to terrify, but then it did – or rather something quite horrifying occurred during the performance. A woman rose to her feet and made a noise. For a split second, I was unsure what it was; then I realised that she was singing – in a reasonably imitation of a trained voice. ‘Jerusalem’ was the first word, followed by ‘is occupied’. She proceeded to shout out denunciations of Israel, ‘an apartheid state’, the attack on Gaza, the use of phosphorous, and so forth, seeming to implicate the quartet, though it was not clear how. I did not note down everything word for word, so should prefer not to guess or to misrepresent. Bewilderment turned into commotion and the players had to stop. Members of the Wigmore staff came to her row in the stalls and led her out of the hall. After a certain hiatus, the performance resumed where it had left off. Some bars later, a further interruption occurred from elsewhere in the hall: a man, I think, this time, though I am not entirely sure of my recollection. To say that it was unnerving was an understatement; I can hardly imagine what it must have been like for the players. And what else might be in store? Might there be something more than heckling? The players, this time having left the stage, eventually returned and resumed the movement, making their way to the end. By this time, of course, many in the audience, myself included, must have necessarily had other thoughts in their minds. What issues did this raise, especially in the allegedly most ‘pure’ of Classical forms, the string quartet? Although I shall talk a little about this later, I thought it better at least to mention it here, since this was perforce very much part of my experience as a member of the audience. By this stage, however, the disruption of the work’s aura was complete; fear and anger were increasingly palpable.

The minuet was taken at a fastish tempo but without sounding hard-driven: again, a necessary but devilishly difficult task for Mozart performers. It was perhaps a little faster than I might have expected, given the general nature of the performance and my experience of the quartet’s general approach; I wondered whether this might be an attempt to make up time, given what had happened in the previous movement. In the circumstances, the players’ attentiveness to each other and general stylishness seemed little short of miraculous. The audience, one could sense, remained on edge; I certainly was. It was likewise remarkable how full of grace and genuine give-and-take the trio proved. But we made it to the finale, though no one knew whether the interruptions – I am trying to employ ‘neutral’ language, whatever the nature of my own feelings – had ceased. I should have noticed the fullness of sound in any case, I think, but given the circumstances, it resounded all the more, perfect to support that precarious balance or dialectic between harmony and counterpoint. The movement perhaps sounded a bit precipitate, but one could well understand why. I myself was willing the players to make it to the end before another intervention. It was not to be…

… This time proved, if anything, nastier. The music having stopped again, some members of the audience began to shout at the protestor: hardly unreasonable, though one man in particular seemed a little too eager for a fight, calling out personal abuse. One frustrated audience member, seated in front of the present protestor, turned and initiated some sort of physical contact, which was broken up when the protestor was led out. A man from a few rows behind shouted out, condemning the responding audience member’s behaviour. It was unclear whether the man now calling out were another member of the organised – I realise I am making an assumption here, but it can hardly have been spontaneous – group, or whether he were sympathetic and simply venting his opposition to such behaviour. My suspicion, and it is only that, is that the latter was the case. Eventually, Amihai Grosz spoke, attempting to address accusations – apparently levelled in the leaflets being dispersed outside – that the quartet was somehow supported by the Israeli government. He said that it was not, which was good enough for me, and referred to the fact that every Israeli citizen must perform military service. (There are conscientious objectors, of course, but let us leave that on one side.) At any rate, they were only musicians. (I shall come back to that.) The players were clearly uncertain as to whether to carry on, or as to whether they would be permitted to do so. It was a relief to have the hall's front of house manager now walk to the front and ask whether we wished the quartet to resume. There was no equivocation in the response, so the players did as they were asked. I do not know whether the broadcast, which had presumably made this an attractive, high-profile proposition for protestors, had ceased by then. An announcement that the only remaining audience was in the hall might have helped. Music won through, though, as the performance proceeded to its end. Applause was warm, to put it mildly. Some, myself included, stood.

Then Ravel. The cool, calm, collected nature of the opening seemed all the more remarkable on this occasion. Beautifully stylish, the performance pulsated with life, especially in the inner parts. This, someone such as Daniel Barenboim would doubtless argue, is what music can do. I differ from Barenboim concerning his understandable divorce of music from politics, but enough of that for now. Those, though, were thoughts that I could not banish from my mind, however much I wished to concentrate on ‘the music’. Something that sounded like anger – the relationship between music and the emotions, let alone their personification, is complex – understandably made itself sound, or at least I heard it, followed by a relative calm that could not quite be placid.

Interruption again… When the music resumed, Ravel’s apparent serenity was anything but. On this occasion, the unanimity of pizzicato in the second movement’s opening bars was all the more thrilling. Was that anger again one heard soon after? The Lent section was full of tension not necessarily in the music – or, again, this was how I heard it. Relief on completing the movement without extra-musical incident compensated somewhat. Shimmering background was the setting for a profound melancholy to the lyricism of the slow movement’s opening. Climaxes were rapt: surprisingly Romantic, but not inappropriately. I admit, though, that I found it impossible properly to concentrate. Perhaps one had to have to, as the players did. Again, this movement proved free of disruption, but I cannot have been the only one to fear that something was being kept in reserve for the finale. The disciplined violence of its opening bars would have told anyway, but certainly did now, likewise its searing lyricism. The courageous – in my view – players of the Jerusalem Quartet made it to the end. Once again many of us stood to applaud them.

I do not believe in art for art’s sake, in principle or phenomenologically. To attempt to remove art from the political sphere, or politics from art, goes against everything I hold dear. What, then, should one think about what happened? There is probably no one thing one should think – which may be the most important thing to remember. The protestors would doubtless claim that the disruption caused was as nothing compared to the events in Gaza. It is difficult to disagree. But is that the point? And were they on sure ground with respect to these musicians? So far as I could discern afterwards, the protestors’ grievance seemed initially to have been derived from a dubious website. Barenboim’s personal heroism is of course quite something, but should one expect such heroism from everyone, especially, dare I suggest, from musicians who do not have the luxury of being Daniel Barenboim? And what should one think if, for instance, one knew that performers supported something one found abhorrent? Is it not a good idea to rejoice in music’s capacity to heal? Or is that an illusory æstheticism? Again, there are probably no singular answers – and a lack of plurality is again a major part of the problem. My thoughts led me to that enigmatic shout of ‘Deutschland über alles, Herr Schuricht!’ at the 1939 performance of Das Lied von der Erde in Amsterdam under Carl Schuricht. Was that woman protesting? Was she a supporter or was she voicing sarcasm? How can one fail to feel horrified, whatever the response? The reader may discover for himself; the performance was recorded. These are all difficult questions, which is not to say that one should not attempt to answer them. However, one should guard against definitive answers, not out of some misguided desire for ‘moderation’, but because there is nothing more totalitarian than a simplistic response. The Jerusalem Quartet players acquitted themselves magnificently. I admired them before as musicians; I admire them now as men.

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am too shocked and overwhelmed to react to such a barbaric act...

John Babb said...

Many thanks for your account (not sure review is the right word here) of what happened during this concert, not least for your reluctance to draw easy conclusions. Your detailed arguments are thought provoking as usual. As I read your comments I felt many doubts and questions some of which you address in the final paragraph.
From a purely musical standpoint it is surprising that the Jerusalem Quartet were able to complete their performance since the fear and apprehension of more interruptions would have destabilised many performers.

Anonymous said...

I too attended this concert and was shocked by the violent, angry interruptions to the music. The hall staff acquitted themselves well in the circumstances, and immense credit is due to the musicians for carrying on, when most normal people might have run a mile. Incidentally, I was sitting next to the woman, who was the third protester to stand and shout, (though of course unaware that she was going to do this when I took my seat). A man in front of me grabbed her by the hair and dragged her across my knees in an equally violent display of anger at her intrusion on the concert.

It is so sad that politics and protest should intrude on beautiful music.

Anonymous said...

I totally disagree with your comments about Barenboim's heroism. As an Israeli and a musician, I consider him a traitor to his own people, trying to lick up to the Germans (especially...) while behaving worse than the bitterest antisemite. I also disagree about the necessity of a link between music and politics. These poor guys were there to play music. Can't this just be left out of all the endless arguments ?? No side is totally right, and yes, while I must be biased against the Palestinians, I wish to comment here, that I haven't yet heared of anyone disturbing a performance of araq music at the London Royal Festival Hall, demonstrating against the dayly shelling of thousends or rockets on Israeli towns and Innocent civillians during 4 years prior to the Gaza event which only lasted 10 days... Is that less of a crime than using phosphorous ? Perhaps the Brits have forgotten how they bombed civillian populations throught Nazi Germani during WWII ? Even if were in rataliation to the bombing of London, Leicester and other towns or cities, Was THIS right ?? I strongly suggest the writer of this article gets his information evened out and the he takes time to learn the facts in a much less one-sided way before passing verdict. Finally, I would like to make a comments about the very method of this demonstration. Goebels (yes, thats right, the Nazi guy) once gave a speach about propaganda, in which he remarked that in HIS eyes, there are no limits as to how truthfull or accurate the information used is, so long as the message gets accross... It seems the writer of this account has allowed himself to fall into the trap of these BAD manipulators of public opinion like a ripe cherry.

Henry Holland said...

I strongly suggest the writer of this article gets his information evened out and the he takes time to learn the facts in a much less one-sided way before passing verdict

What on earth are talking about? I've read Mark's piece twice and I can't discern his position (if he even has one) on the situation in Israel/Gaza at all. He, like most of us would, seemed unhappy that the music got interrupted repeatedly and that scenes inside the Wigmore Hall were akin to what you'd find at a third division football match (Millwall anyone?).

And what should one think if, for instance, one knew that performers supported something one found abhorrent?

Don't care, never have, never will. There are plenty of composers/performers (and rock and pop musicians) who were/are less than stellar human beings (Wagner, Delius, Britten for a start) but I don't give a damn, the only thing I care about is whether they wrote good music/perform it well or not. If I judged art on the content of its creator's/performer's personality and lives, there'd be precious little that would be "acceptable" to listen to/watch/read.

thomas said...

The Jerusalem quartet represent the Apartheid state of Israel who deserve what they got yesterday. Bravo to the hecklers!

Anonymous said...

The violist stated that the Quartet does not represent Israel... what more do you want?

thomas said...

Of course it does. It is called The Jerusalem Quartet which is what the current Government calls the undivided capital of Israel. They are also funded by the Israeli state and very much a flagship organisation. Music is politics.

stolarzo said...

That is beside the point. The fact that in your view (referring to Anonymous), as your comment implies, the performers should deny representation of their home country in order to have the right to give a concert to a respectful audience, without being brutally interrupted with violent, pseudo-liberal, vile political slander, shows that these demonstrators have successfully diverted the ball to their court, convincing you that such behavior, under any circumstances, may be even remotely legitimate. These tactics of violence-inciting defamation couldn't possibly be considered fair-play in the U.K insofar as citizens of any other country are concerned, except for Israel. Israel is constantly singled out and condemned with appauling manners by pro-Palestinian activists, because they feel that they are allowed to do so; they feel they have a right to villify the only home for the Jewish people in this world on any and every public stage, and you seem to inadmittedly agree with their premise, as long as the victims of this character assassination show any sense of natioal pride or any sense of belonging to their homeland. These performers were indeed brave playing on and giving a good concert to their audience despite the interruptions, but they were not brave trying to appologize for being Israeli, in front of the barbarians who seem to think they should indeed do so. I have respect for the author of this post for trying to depict the incident without taking sides, but I strongly believe, with regards to the words of the previous commentator, that allowing this type of behavior, even by indirect consent and even by inconspicuous silence, is antecedent to allowing outright physical violence against political opponents of any kind, and possibly against an entire ethnic group or nation, and is therefore utterly despicable.

thomas said...

what about the "physical" violence used on a daily basis against the Palestinians. Remember the 1400 killed in Gaza etc. Every Israeli flagship organisation visiting this country should be reminded who and more importantly what they represent. Israel must and will change.

Mark Berry said...

I really do not want to intervene heavy-handedly in discussions, but, without taking sides, I am worried about the turn this is taking. The issues are not clear-cut, I know; as many of us have been arguing, music and politics cannot be separated. But I do not want this to become a forum for a discussion of Palestinian/Israeli issues in themselves, and may therefore have to decline posts. I am certainly not saying that this is an issue not to be discussed, but it is not in itself the issue of this piece or this blog.

Many thanks,

Mark

stolarzo said...

The subject of this thread, briefly, is whether or not political protest is appropriate during a concert. I stated herebefore that in my view it is definitely not. I have no interest to address your make-believe political chatter and romantic loudspeaker slogans, since they are obviously irrelevant, apart from being juvenile and predictable.

stolarzo said...

That is, of course, with regards to thomas and not to Mark. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Mark for your fine review. The interruptions to the concert by the Jerusalem Quartet, that you report, are indeed shocking. I wonder that you are unable to decide whether to separate music from politics. The name of the Quartet represents the capital of the three monotheistic religions. What in the program represents the state of Israel? Mozart and Ravel? The players themselves have reached the highest levels of their profession and by your account proved themselves to be musicians of the highest calibre with astounding abilities of concentration. Surely this behooves respect. We continue to listen to recordings by Furtwangler though he cooperated with the Nazis, and to Wagner's music though he was an anti-semite. Music is transcendental and universal, and serves to unite people everywhere. This is what Barenboim is trying to achieve. I think you should have been outraged at the protesters' behaviour. No one is asking as to whether you should agree or not with their politics. Politics should be kept out of the concert hall. When people begin to attack cultural events, the memory of past totalitarianisms starts to arise.
In addition, as an Israeli and a musician, I would comment that many in Israel do what they may in a democracy to oppose the occupation. Yet many here find it hard to understand the one-sided vilification to which we are subjected especially by the "unbiased" British. Food for thought.

thomas said...

Anonymous in Israel. as long as the occupation expect to receive many more protests. You have no right to have a single settler on the west bank, and I think judging by your intelligent comments you know that.

Anonymous said...

I also attended Sunday's lunchtime concert - with mixed emotions admittedly as I am appalled by the Israeli Government's treatment of the Palestinians and expansionist policy in East Jerusalem. However, I was prepared to give the young musicians the benefit of the doubt, especially as I heard that one or two of them had played in the East Western Divan Orchestra (the "child" of the late Edward Said, an outstanding man in all respects, and Daniel Barenboin, a man who combines his amazing musicality with a full humanity and morality _ if he is a traitor, then heaven help us with the patriots!)
What disturbed me most about the concert (and yes, there was intense anger in the playing of the Ravel which given the context I found almost unbearable)was the attempts of the Violist to deny any culpability as their service in the army was spent entertaining the troops, and posing with a rifle as well as instruments is no big deal.
It is SO important to explain that the militarism of Israel IS a very big deal for the Palestinians (including the 1,400 who died in Gaza last year) but also for the Israelis who seem to be destroying all that is good in Jewish values. I do not know how we can get this across to the young – and old Israelis for whom militarism is ingrained in their lives. No wonder many of the protestors were Jewish. Whatever you think about a protest taking place during a concert, you have to understand the sincerity of the protestors in their desperation to improve the appalling situation for the Palestinians

Anonymous said...

The hecklers are sheer swine, sorry for the rude expression. It's very comfortable to imagine a one sided version of the conflict, to come to the concert, to scream righteous jingles and then return to the daily routine. How many of them really care, how many spend their vacation time as volunteers in Palestine, or at least contribute money for the Palestinian cause? In this particular cause the "protest" is especially phony, since the Quartet members are peace activists and participate in Barenboim's East Western Divan project. As the Quartet cellist Kirill Zlotnikov told in an interview, the pro-Palestinian activists never disturb them in small cities, but only at major venues, because there is a chance for a press coverage - and even the intervention Edward Said's widow never stopped them. http://www.jpost.com/Home/Article.aspx?id=152930
Granted, there's nothing good about the current situation, but it is far more complicated, then one tends to imagine.
Maxim Reider

Anonymous said...

Just a quotation:
...Being an Israeli musician, especially as a member of a quartet whose name is so closely associated with the State of Israel, is not always simple, says Zlotnikov. "Various self-proclaimed pro-Palestinian support groups call for boycotting our concerts, especially in England. Characteristically enough, they do not bother to disturb us when we appear in small towns with almost no chance of press coverage, but they threaten to disrupt our performances at major venues, such as the BBC Proms festival. "On one such occasion, the widow of the late Edward Said, Barenboim's close friend and partner in peace activism, tried to intervene, explaining that two of the Quartet members participate in the East-Western Divan project - but it didn't stop them. I am not afraid for myself, but the very thought that these people are able to throw something onstage and ruin the instruments is really scary."(Jerusalem Post 26/08/2009) - no need to read the entire article.

Argus said...

There was something in this article which disturbed me more than the ugly and revolting pre-organized disturbance of the Palestinians. I quote:
"Eventually, Amihai Grosz spoke, attempting to address accusations – apparently levelled in the leaflets being dispersed outside – that the quartet was somehow supported by the Israeli government. He said that it was not, which was good enough for me, and referred to the fact that every Israeli citizen must perform military service. (There are conscientious objectors, of course, but let us leave that on one side.)

Why did Mr. Grosz feel that he needed to apologize? Why did he have to try to "clear" himself by stating that his quartet is not supported by the State of Israel? Why did he feel the need to explain that every Israeli citizen must perform military service?
Is he not aware of the fact that without the Israeli Defense Forces there would be no string quartets in Israel, there would be no Israel at all?
Does Mr. Berry think the UK would exist without the British Armed Forces, the MI5 and the MI6? Maybe it would, but as the United Emirate of Great Britain!

Maxim Reider said...

Right, the fact that Amihai Grosz - the only Israeli born musician among the four - almost apologized for being Israeli is quite sad.

Mark Berry said...

So far as I am aware - I could not hear everything he said - Amihai Grosz came nowhere close to apologising for being Israeli. He simply offered a few words of explanation, not apology. It is not clear to me why the anonyomous writer from 13.17 should object to explanation, which can do no harm in any context about anything. I am sure that many would have preferred an apology or something close thereto, whilst clearly some people, such as Maxim, already object from the other side. As such - and I am offering no personal view here, which is not to say that I do not have one - Grosz could not possibly win, which to me makes his decision to speak all the more admirable. It is very easy for people to offer opinions from behind their computer screens or even from the stalls; for me, the players' conduct on stage and in the heat of the moment was dignified and impressive. This may or may not be fair, but, whilst I am willing to take myself a certain degree not just of criticism but even abuse, I am not willing to allow the members of the Jerusalem Quartet to suffer further insults, as opposed to criticism, on here. Just a warning, should anyone feel so inclined...

Maxim Reider said...

Are you sure it was Amihai who spoke, Mark? After writing my comment I heard a (rather poor) recording of the broadcast and from what I understood the musician speaks about the cello, saying that it would have been difficult to use a rifle having also such an awkward instrument as a cello - so my suggestion is it was Zlotnikov, known for his brilliant sense of humour (and not only for musicianship). He said that everybody serves his country in his own way and they served as musicians. May be this was the best way to solve it - I'm the last to judge them.
What I do not like is that they need to explain that the army is compulsory, etc. Almost every country needs an army, especially in this part of the world. People watch CNN and BBC and believe that they know and understand everything. But the reality is far more complicated and there are two narratives regarding what has happened here during the last century. As an Israeli I have no problem taking sides. But this is not the time and the place to discuss politics.
Best,
Maxim

Mark Berry said...

Yes, it was definitely Amihai. He nodded to Kyril Zlotnikov when he made the reference about the size of the cello. For what it is worth, I am not sure I agree about the lack of need to explain: it is so long since the days of compulsory military service in this country (the United Kingdom) that it perhaps does no harm for an audience here to be reminded of the distinction between conscripts and those who have chosen to serve militarily. But anyway, that is a minor point really.

Henry Holland said...

I don't think this has been mentioned, maybe it's been implied, but some of the protesters were Jewish:

http://azvsas.blogspot.com/

Ran said...

I believe that music, at the moment it is being played, should be about music, not those who are delivering it.

But when I read the announcement for the concert on Radio 3's website, I did feel that at this time, in light of the events taking place, the name "The Jerusalem String Quartet" was implying a political statement Israel wanted to make clear to the world.

Anonymous said...

This Quartet is not sponsored by the state of Israel. They have not been members of the army for over a decade. They were only members because of conscription. They had no choice in the matter and served as musicians and not in combat. They do not even live in Israel. They play alongside their Arab brothers in the Divan orchstra set up by Barenboim and Said. Any decent human being would give them a break! They are musicians not politicians. By the way, the overweight "soprano" (with the wobble as wide as herself) who kicked off the protests with her own version of "The Holy City" is a failed Guildhall opera singer, according to Wigmore Hall regulars, who said that her 15 second atonal yelping is the closest she will ever get to performing there for real! How sad that she is so desperate for attention for her faulty instrument. She could do with boycotting ALL food for herself for a while, not just Israeli food. It would do her the world of good.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for a great review.

The protesters included Deborah Fink, Tony Greenstein and Yael Kahn. You can see a previous escapade of Fink here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OknjF8YQwh0

Israel has every right to defend itself. The JQ has every right to play at the Wigmore Hall. Paying patrons have every right to hear them perform without interruption.

That's all one needs to know.

I hope they are arrested for breach of the peace even though they are great recruiting serjeants for those of us who fight the demonisation of Israel. Look how this audience was swayed in favour of the JQ.

Jonathan Hoffman

Concertgoer in America said...

Mark, just two comments:

- There is no reason why the Quartet should have to dissociate itself from the Israeli government. Not only has the Israeli government behaved entirely reasonably in defense of its own citizens, it is hypocritical to demand such dissociation when the same is not demanded of cultural bodies outrightly subsidised by the repressive governments of Russia, China, etc.

- The miscreants should remember that they can be treated to a taste of their own medicine. In fact, virulent hatred of the Jewish state seems to be a growing infection within British society. Accordingly, if this trend is not stopped and the miscreants dealt with severely, American Jewish organisations might well consider planning similar disruptions of the next dozen British cultural events in the USA.

Goose, gander, and all that.

Israel Kastoriano said...

As an Israeli and a musician I have great pleasure in stating that I am proud of being both.
For thousands of years it has been fashionable to use Israelites as scapegoats. Nothing changed today.
Hate, nourished by numerous interests of the Arab and Muslim worlds- who often live in a most brutal and cruel interrelation- finds the appropriate echo in thousands years old antisemitism.
The fact that some of the protesters are themselves Jewish proves again that no one is immune from self-hate.
As for the Jerusalem Quartet,they are entitled to make beautiful music to the utmost of their abilities though they aren't required to display any political view of any sort during ANY musical performance (The same goes for the "heroic" Barenboim).

Anonymous said...

Dear Mark
I´m afraid to say that your report is not totally accurate. I´ve been attending concerts at the Wigmore for years and can tell that all people involved -at least that I saw of- in the business of taking the protesters out of the auditorium were not police officers, but Hall's staff.
The one that stood up and interrupted Mihai to ask the audience was no other than the Hall's director: a clever gesture as the whole thing was derailing into a political debate!

Other than that, everyone is free to express their opinions and regardless of mine with respect of the whole situation in the Middle East, still believe that a concert is just not the arena for that.

Sonja said...

Reading the replies here, following court case, to me it is obvious that the hasbara team is panicking.

Mark Berry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

This is a most interesting discussion. I think we need to protest Israel's policies wherever and whenever possible; in this case I think the protests should have been in front of the concert hall and not during the music. But, maybe that's the only way the protesters can get any attention. Their cause needs attention. The West's (and particularly the United States) backing of this apartheid regime and its genocidal behavior toward Palestinians is unconscionable. There was a concert in Boston entitled Peace in Jerusalem (or something to that effect), that I would not go to, because it is an insulting oxymoron. That is the way I think we can protest what's going on in Jerusalem--instead of disrupting concerts, just don't attend them. Music is not above politics...in fact I generally refuse to sing the Star Spangled Banner, because I detest the patriotism is engenders...patriotism that has given rise to two unjust wars in the Middle East in the last ten years, killing thousands upon thousands of innocent people. I don't believe the U.S. would have been in those wars except for its support of Israel.