Thursday, 22 September 2011

Alas, more vindictiveness towards LPO and now OAE musicians...

What a pity that the Daily Telegraph, which today published an excellent letter, in which many signatories protest at the LPO suspensions, should also now publish, albeit only as a blog item, a call (click here) for the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment to follow suit. The piece is so riddled with errors and general offence, and is so often lacking in logical coherence (basic, let alone dialectical), that it is probably not worthy of further comment, but here are just a few points immediately worth making:

  • ' Would they ['the Lefty [sic] music establishment] have responded with equal outrage had the orchestral players been suspended for attacking the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra [etc.] ...?' Leaving aside the question of how many of us calling upon the LPO management to reverse its position could claim membership of any 'establishment', the answer is of course, 'yes'. The issue at hand is not whether we agree with the call from the 'LPO Four' and many others to cancel the Israel Philharmonic Prom. (For what it is worth, I was not at all in agreement with the call to boycott, and I know that many others were not.) It is the suspension of musicians as a consequence merely of having identified themselves as members of the LPO, without any implication that they were speaking on its behalf. I should have the same view no matter what the content of their letter to The Independent. 'Attack', moreover, is a problematical word to have employed, since it might well be read to implying a connection, when there was none, between LPO and OAE members signing the letter and the protests that subsequently took place in the Royal Albert Hall.
  •  'the East-Western Divan, whose Arab members represent some of the most vile regimes on the planet'? No, they do not represent any regime: that is part of the whole point of the orchestra. Indeed, many of the young Arab musicians experience great difficulty as a consequence of their membership of this inspiring project. Moreover, but a passing acquaintance with Goethe might have informed our writer that the organisation is called the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra.
  • ' Orchestral managements, it seems, are being forced into a corner. No longer will they be able to censure players who publicly associate their brands with offensive or extremist Left-wing views. But Right-wing ones?' And why should they censure players on account of their political opinions, 'offensive or extremist', or otherwise? As for referring to orchestras as 'brands', that is not a conception I or anyone else I know holds of music-making, whether professional or otherwise.
  • 'It's not as if the management is short of reasons to take action: defamation of the company name, demeaning the company by behaving in a discriminatory fashion, talking to the media without consent etc.' So an orchestral musician is a slave, who may not speak to 'the media without consent'?
  • 'The OAE, it seems, is willing to associate itself with discriminatory views against Israel and Israelis.' Given earlier talk of 'defamation', the orchestra in question may wish to pursue that claim further.
  • The mention of anti-Semitism deserves to be treated with contempt, not least given the high proportion, were one inclined to measure it, of Jewish support for the musicians. A classic attempt (which, in a mirror image of the language used here, would doubtless be dubbed 'right-wing extremist') to close off discussion by cynically invoking the dread word should not be permitted to succeed. And no, these are not 'self-hating Jews' or self-hating anyone-elses, another classic, cynical response to such objections.