Now let's spin music sponsorship a different way

London 2012 Festival celebrates global ethics

Opening the London 2012 Festival on June 21 is the UK premiere of Jonathan Harvey's Weltethos performed by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra conducted by Edward Gardner. Weltethos, which means 'global ethic' in German, pays homage to the radical theologian Hans Küng who believed that international peace can only be achieved by a global ethical consensus, and the work is structured around the teachings of six religious figures on ethical topics. Weltethos was written to a commission by the Global Ethical Foundation (Stiftung Weltethos) and the "premier partner" for the London 2012 Festival performance is multinational oil and gas company BP.

BP's ethical track record includes the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico which resulted in the loss of 11 lives and caused disastrous environmental damage. A US government report into the Deepwater disaster blamed it on poor management by the company and a review of BP's history shows a pattern of ethically questionable behaviour that goes back decades.

Over the past two decades BP subsidiaries have been convicted three times of environmental crimes in Alaska and Texas and the company was placed on probation for two of them. In 2005 an explosion at its refinery in Texas City near Galveston killed 15 workers and injured 180 people. An investigation into the explosion by the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board blamed BP for the explosion and offered a scathing assessment of the company. It found "organizational and safety deficiencies at all levels of the BP Corporation" and said management failures could be traced from Texas to London.

BP company eventually pleaded guilty to a felony violation of the Clean Air Act, was fined $50 million and sentenced to three years probation. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration imposed on the company the largest fine in OSHA history — $87 million — after inspectors found 270 safety violations that had been previously cited but not fixed and 439 new violations.

In 2010 the company's chief executive at the time of the Deepwater Horizon disaster stepped down with an exit package of a year's salary, worth $1.61 million, and a $17 million pension fund. In the following year the new BP chief executive Bob Dudley received a total $6.8million remuneration package including shares worth $788,300. The share award was based on BP's performance in 2009-11, despite the Gulf spill that occurred during the period.

Jonathan Harvey's Weltethos sets the following text by Global Ethical Foundation president Hans Küng for children's choir:

Wir haben Zukunft:
Wir Kinder haben Zukunft, wenn wir immer Menschen bleiben.
Menschen mit Vernunft und Herz…

We have a future:
We children have a future, if we always remain human.
Humans with mind and heart…

For more information contact London 2012 Festival and BP.
That press release spun a different way was created by combining Faber Music's synopsis of Jonathan Harvey's Weltethos, a McClatchy summary of BP's legal and ethical violations, and information from the London 2012 Festival website and other sources, with editing, linking passages and hypertext added by me. My interview with Jonathan Harvey is here and there is more on spinning classical music sponsorship a different way here.

Also on Facebook and Twitter. Photo credit Oil Spill News. 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). With thanks to Brion Gysin for creating cut-ups and to Philip Amos whose comment about BP sent me down this path. Report broken links, missing images and errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk


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