Â (Washington, DC) Former Senator George J. Mitchell released a blistering report Thursday that tied 89 performers of so-called â€œClassical Music,â€ including Mitsuko Uchida, to the use of illegal, non-musical cultural performance-enhancers. The report used informant testimony and supporting documents to provide a richly detailed portrait of what Mr. Mitchell described as â€œclassical musicâ€™s thinking era.â€The Mitchell report ran about 400 pages and was based on interviews with more than 700 people, including 60 former â€œclassicalâ€ musicians, and 115,000 pages of documents. Ms. Uchida was the most prominent name on a list that included seven other most valuable players as well as players from all instruments of the orchestra, with the exception of the tuba.
A great aside from Bill Eddins, who I now really want to come conduct here in Portland, if only to have drinks with him after a concert.
This leads to another rant – I hate Christmas. I have two reasons for this: I particularly dislike the rampant materialism that is now part of this holiday. I’m sick of BUY! BUY! BUY! There’s another reason though – I can’t stand the incessant Christmas music. I only have to hear the first 3 notes of Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer to have that damn song stuck in my head for hours on end, and this is only one of a thousand Christmas songs that one cannot avoid hearing during this month. Malls, radio, whatever – you simply cannot avoid them. It’s this time of year that I keep threatening to move to a predominantly Muslim country. Of course, that has it’s own issues.
UPDATE (11/12): Yet another follow-follow-up article from the New York Times:
But before addressing the news media, Mr. Pak, the permanent representative of his country to the United Nations, met briefly with orchestra officials and their public relations advisers. They agreed to avoid discussing North Koreaâ€™s nuclear program, a major concern of the United States. â€œOtherwise the atmosphere will be politicized,â€ Mr. Pak told them.
North Korea invited the Philharmonic to play in Pyongyang, the capital, and the orchestra has accepted. It will spend 48 hours there, performing on Feb. 26 after a tour in China. The State Department has fully backed the trip and has provided advice and planning.
If North Korea keeps its promises, potentially millions of its isolated, tightly controlled citizens are likely to hear their national anthem played on the radio by the New York Philharmonic. And then they will hear â€œThe Star-Spangled Banner,â€ a quintessential American symbol, in a place long subjected to anti-American propaganda.
In case you are living in a cultural cave (why then are you reading this blog of all things?) the NYPhil just announced that they are going to play in North Korea at the end of their Asian tour. This has generated a fair share of controversy. No less of a pundit than Terry Teachout is pretty dead set against this idea, as are various National Security advisers, etc. They argue that this act will merely legitimize a totalitarian regime. Not to start a blog war between myself and Terry, someone who’s opinion I happen to take very seriously, but he is dead wrong.
As such, unless there are indisputable facts that support the conclusion that the New York Philharmonic’s trip will directly support oppression, it is time to trust that the universal language will begin to forge bridges across rivers of misinformation and propaganda. As Bill wrote “God knows it may take a while but this can and will be a first step.”