Conductors who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones

In the photo above Simon Rattle is being interviewed by LÜ Jia, Music Director of the Chinese government funded National Centre for the Performing Arts in Bejiing. Below Rattle is seen while on tour at a press conference in the Chinese city of Guangzhou. The Chinese government is guilty of the mass genocide against 1.2 million people in Tibet and continues with its policy of eradicating the priceless Tibetan culture by Sinicization, while Guangzhou has been singled out as a centre of human rights abuses. In January 2018, the authorities in Guangzhou forcibly disappeared the wife of a US-based journalist. This forced disappearance came shortly after the journalist interviewed a Chinese billionaire fugitive who exposed corruption among China’s ruling elite.

Rattle is also a repeat visitor to Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates. In their 2020 report Amnesty International reports that "Over two dozen prisoners of conscience continued to be detained in the United Arab Emirates (UAE)... Emirati authorities continued to ban political opposition and to detain prisoners for such opposition... Women remained unequal with men under Emirati law... Consensual sexual behaviour continued to be prosecuted". 

These are just some of the human rights travesties perpetuated by the Chinese and UAE governments,  travesties that make Britain's arguably justified 1982 military action in the Falklands look like a vicarage garden party. Yet Simon Rattle trots out the Falklands intervention as his reason for not conducting the Last Night of the Proms, and his juicy soundbite is dutifully exploited by the media on both the right and left. Great musicians from the past continue to have their reputations blighted for furthering their careers by fraternising with odious regimes, while great musicians of the present are lauded for participating in the cultural white-washing of equally odious regimes. Welcome to classical music 2021.

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