Who is oiling the wheels of classical music?

Dow Chemical's sponsorship of the 2012 London Olympics has attracted attention due to the company's links to the 1984 Bhopal disaster in India. But a "premier partner" of the London 2012 Festival, which includes performances of Philip Glass' Einstein on the Beach , Jonathan Harvey's new choral work Weltethos, concerts by Gustavo Dudamel and by the new Aldeburgh World Orchestra, as well as the world premiere of Stockhausen's Mittwoch aus Licht, has attracted less attention. As the header graphic shows, the pole position sponsor of the London 2012 Festival is global oil and gas company BP, the company responsible for the environmentally disastrous 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. No suggestion of boycotts or demonstrations. Just a suggestion that people should be aware of who is oiling the wheels of classical music.

* More on this story here.

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Philip Amos said…
There are plenty of reasons for BP to be shunned, other than the Gulf of Mexico catastrophe. In 1923, as the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, a subsidiary of Burman Oil, it hired Churchill as a lobbyist to get Burman sole rights to Iranian oil, and it succeeded. As the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, it successfully organized a boycott of Iranian oil after it was nationalized by the democratic government installed in 1951. And to think it was not complicit in the overthrow of that government and the installation of the Shah and an autocratic regime, a plot concocted by the CIA, takes some naivete.

It then became part of a consortium sharing oil profits 50-50 with Iran, but stipulating that it would not open its books to auditors or allow Iranians on its Board. And in 1967 the foundering of the Torrey Canyon off the coast of England, which revealed that the company was disguising its tankers by flying under the Liberian flag of convenience. And in Russia, BP now owns half of TNK-BP in partnership with three Russian billionaires, and that hardly needs to be construed.

The story of its mergers since 1998 reveal it as a rapacious company, not at all reformed since its seizing a monopoly of Persian oil in 1923. Its history, in short, is a story of scandal and illegalities, and when opportunity arises, it is in that light that the company should be seen, its offers of sponsorship rejected, its general do-gooding viewed with a very cynical eye.

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