Wednesday, October 22, 2014

How many protests against the death of an orchestra?


I find protests against the Metropolitan Opera's production of The Death of Klinghoffer disturbing. I also find the threatened closure of the Ulster Orchestra - an invaluable ensemble praised in posts including What price the Simon Bolivar roadshow?- disturbing. And I find the imbalance between the abundant coverage in both the music and mainstream media of classical music's problems in New York, Atlanta, Minneapolis etc and the sparse reporting of the looming tragedy in Belfast disturbing.

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1 comment:

Philip Amos said...

It's taking a lot of restraint, Bob, but the wiser course is for me to say just that I totally agree with you. And then add this, writing as one who almost certainly wouldn't be here had the Nazis conquered Britain.

Reading various accounts of the Met protest, I was already starting to tremble with, well, I don't know -- either anger or frustration or both -- when I came upon the first of now two interviews and one article comparing the staging of Klinghoffer to Kristallnacht.

It has long astonished me that so many -- though by no means all -- Jewish people in the US, and there far more than elsewhere, should be unable to understand how much damage they do by so distorting and debasing the horror of such events as the Kristallnacht pogrom.

The one thing that did a little to cheer me came from a Jewish university student whose attendance at the Met that night was his first experience of opera. Interviewed as he left after the performance, he said he found nothing objectionable in it, and proceeded to explain why simply by giving a remarkably cogent synopsis of the libretto and action. I think his field was medicine, but so complete was the grasp of this opera newcomer that it flashed through my mind that he would be a considerable improvement on most current music critics.

But, of course, the entire farrago of ignorance and opportunism had very little to do with music. It was in truth a political rally, just another chance to point the finger of anti-Semitism at anyone, both Jews and Gentiles, who may have the temerity to criticize so much as one Israeli policy.

To foster understanding rather than more deeply embed ignorance, I wish the greater attention had been given to 'Lost Childhood', a concert opera, music by Janice Hamer, libretto by Mary Azrael, written to mark the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht last year. The work is based on the memoirs of Yehuda Nir and also Nir's conversations with his friend Gottfried Wagner, great grandson of Richard. So much for people to learn from that opera, but attention was reserved for the sound and fury, signifying ignorance, of the other evening.