Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Classical music celebrates a $109m bonus


Classical music's reality distortion field goes into overdrive as the Independent's Jessica Duchen enthuses over self-styled political activist AndrĂ¡s Schiff directing Bach's B minor Mass without mentioning that the Lucerne Easter Festival, of which the concert was part, is sponsored by secretive commodities trader Glencore. Multinational Glencore has annual revenues of $186.2 billion and is headquartered in Switzerland but registered in tax haven Jersey; it is the world's largest commodities trading company and the normally reticent BBC reports that "Glencore has never been far from controversy'" - the BBC News photo above shows workers at a Glencore mine in Bolivia clashing with troops in 2007.

Wikipedia provides a useful guide to a company's ethical credentials and their 'Controversies' section for Glencore is a real corker - financial and accounting manipulations, dealings with "rogue states", investments in Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador and Zambia, and opaque relationships with other mining companies. While elsewhere it was reported last month that Glencore's chief executive Ivan Glasenberg, whose personal net worth is $7.2 billion, received a dividend bonus of $109m in addition to his $1.5m salary. As Jessica Duchen says in her review "a heart-warming celebration of the Mass’s multi-faceted spiritual world".

Glencore is a long-standing sponsor of the Lucerne Easter Festival and other artists benefitting from their pieces of gold this year included Claudio Abbado, Bernard Haitink and Mariss Jansons, while headlining the 2013 festival is classical music "saviour" Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Lucerne has a magnetic attraction for music critics as well as celebrity conductors, so presumably the Guardian's Tom Service will again be singing the praises of the Summer Festival without mentioning its equally ethically compromised sponsors.

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