Saturday, June 16, 2007

Professional matters and private lives


A very important, and brave, article by James Fenton on the Robert King conviction in today's Guardian - here are some extracts, the whole article is essential reading:

'When the early music conductor Robert King was jailed, at the beginning of this month, on charges of sexual abuse of minors, his agent, Harrison Parrott, dropped his name from its distinguished main website list (John Adams, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Oliver Knussen, Sakari Oramo, and so on). One might have thought that, whatever the rights and wrongs of the case, a separation could be made between professional or artistic matters and the conductor's personal life. And besides, an artist who has just been sent to Wormwood Scrubs (photo above) is going to need some professional assistance in sorting out his affairs. This is one thing that agents are for. Instead, Katie Cardell-Oliver, King's manager at Harrison Parrott, told me his future with the firm is still under discussion: "For obvious practical reasons, we can't represent him while he's unable to work."

The initial reaction from Hyperion, the company for which King made 95 recordings, was also uncertain: no decision had yet been made, it was reported, as to whether to delete his discs from the list. In a few days, however, the possibility that, for instance, the 10 much-praised volumes of Vivaldi's sacred music would be found to be infected with paedophilia, and would therefore have to be burned, had been discounted. Instead, there came from Hyperion's parent company, Harmonia Mundi, the following carefully worded statement.

"The recordings of the King's Consort will remain available, since they have involved the efforts of literally hundreds of first-rate musicians and it does not seem fair or appropriate to restrict their work from sale. Mr King does not receive income from the continuing sale of Hyperion CDs." Implicit behind the second sentence is the idea that one might otherwise wish to boycott, say, the Monteverdi series, or the Purcell anthems series, on grounds of disapproval of King's private life. But now we know he was not on a royalty.

It is, of course, very hard to extend sympathy to someone in King's position without seeming to overlook, or to condone, offences against minors. For my part, once the court has done its work, and the sentence of, in this case, three years nine months has been set in motion, I think that there is every reason for the individual to feel sympathy for the convicted. We are individuals. We are not the state. We are not obliged to agree with the sentence, and nobody can prevent us from keeping an open mind about the verdict.

As it is, the King's Consort and its choir are being conducted, in the immediate future, by their recently appointed associate, the harpsichordist Matthew Halls. The consort is managed by King's wife, who stood by her husband throughout the case. Presumably the future of the whole operation is in some question. It is a tragedy for all concerned. And I strongly believe that when our most distinguished artists are in such terrible situations - whether or not they brought it on themselves - we should offer them some kind of support, not because, as artists, they deserve a better treatment than anyone else, but simply because we have so much to thank them for.'
Full Guardian article here.

Another case where some help and understanding is needed?
James Fenton was librettist for Charles Wuorinen realisation of Salman Rushdie's Haroun and the Sea of Stories as a children’s opera, and by coincidence Rushdie has been awarded a knighthood today. Photo credit BBC. Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Report broken links, missing images and other errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk

3 comments:

Scott said...

I'm not sure what my opinion is about King. Yes, it's a tragedy in several ways ... no argument.

However, I've only seen adamant denial and accusations of persecution from King. This suggests that either there's been a terrible injustice done to King, or that he's unable to admit any responsibility, let alone remorse. But perhaps there's been more published than I've seen.

Garth Trinkl said...

I believe that James Fenton's name should be added to the list of labels at the bottom of your posting.

Pliable said...

Garth, thanks for that - done.

These post tags are proving to be a very powerful tool, but they take a little managing.

It is also interesting that if you click on the Benjamin Britten tag 90% of the total posts appear.