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BOYCOTT THE BOSTON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA!

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  • Action IWA by way of Michael Novick
    BOYCOTT THE BOSTON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA! The Boston Symphony Orchestra has cancelled its scheduled performances of the Choruses from the opera The Death of
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 30, 2001
      BOYCOTT THE BOSTON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA!

      The Boston Symphony Orchestra has cancelled its scheduled performances
      of the Choruses from the opera "The Death of Klinghoffer" by the composer
      John Adams and librettist Alice Goodman. These performances had been
      scheduled for Thursday and Friday, November 29 and 30, and Saturday and
      Tuesday, December 1 and 4, 2001. In a time of war, and war-hysteria, the
      performing-arts are always targeted for censorship or suppression!
      Medium-grade bureaucrats aim to please the politicians and the generals,
      far beyond the actual requirements of the politicians and the generals.

      As a playwright and poet, I call for a boycott of the Boston Symphony
      Orchestra and its management, a boycott of its season ticket-sales and a
      boycott of its individual ticket-sales, a boycott of its CDs, tapes, or
      other commodities sold by or for it. Acts of aggression must not be
      tolerated against creative artists!

      Emphatically,

      Séamas Cain
      <http://seamascain.writernetwork.com>
      Phone: 218.879.8628
      E-mail: <seamascain@...>
      323 Fourth Street
      Cloquet, Minnesota
      U.S.A.
      55720 - 2051

      -------------------------

      OFFICIOUS VIOLENCE AGAINST CREATIVE ARTISTS!

      The BOSTON GLOBE, on page D1 of its issue for November 1, 2001,
      reported that the Boston Symphony Orchestra had cancelled its scheduled
      performances of the Choruses from the opera "The Death of
      Klinghoffer" by the composer John Adams. The BOSTON GLOBE reported that
      both the composer and the librettist Alice Goodman "voiced their
      disappointment." Adams and Goodman refused to cooperate with any attempt
      at substitutionism.

      These choruses are drawn from John Adam's opera that meditates on the
      1984 hijacking of the cruise ship ACHILLE LAURO by Palestinian commandoes
      and the murder of an American Jewish passenger, Leon Klinghoffer, whose
      wheelchair-confined body was pushed into the sea.

      The opera does not demonize the Palestinians but, instead, gives them
      inner lives as complex as those of the American Jewish characters.
      Nevertheless, the NEW YORK TIMES, on page 27 of the Arts Section for the
      issue of November 25, 2001, reported that Americans are in no "mood, it was
      said, for an opera that conveyed the brutality of hijacking but allowed the
      terrorists to voice perceived injustices in their own words."

      The original premiere of the opera in Brussels was surrounded by
      protest from rightwing extremist groups; two of the companies that
      co-commissioned the opera declined to produce it.

      "Klinghoffer" has raw elements and violent language, despite its
      undoubted artistic value. According to the NEW YORK TIMES, John Adams
      "acknowledges that 'Klinghoffer' is an upsetting work, but argues strongly
      that it offers the sad solace of truth." The choruses provide commentary
      and context. The chorus of exiled Palestinians is balanced by a chorus of
      exiled Jews. The effect has been likened to the J.S. Bach Passions, which
      describe the narrative of crucifixion with specific and violent detail,
      interspersed with choruses and chorales that foster public and personal
      reflection.

      The Boston Symphony Orchestra programmed this work of art. However,
      in a time of war, and war-hysteria, they have suppressed it! Instead, they
      are substituting Copland's insipid First Symphony!

      The NEW YORK TIMES indicated that - after receiving a letter from the
      orchestra containing nothing but bromides - "Mr. Adams went public with his
      outrage."

      According to the BOSTON GLOBE, John Adams responded by e-mail: The
      Boston Symphony Orchestra felt that - at the present moment - their
      audiences "need music of comfort and solace - these were their words -
      something they felt the Klinghoffer Choruses would not provide."

      John Adams disagreed. The Boston Symphony Orchestra presumes that
      their "audiences only want comfort and familiarity during these difficult
      times! According to Adams, the BSO "sets a precedent that there is poetry
      and music that should not be performed at a given
      moment because of its content"!

      Adams refused to cooperate with any attempt at a substitute. Adams
      said: "I feel that going along with it would be tacitly to agree to their
      reasons for this cancellation."

      John Oliver, director of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, said that he
      "was personally unaware of any opposition from his singers."

      Anthony Tommasini, writing for the NEW YORK TIMES, wrote: "But how
      patronizing for the orchestra's directors to presume what audiences will or
      will not find offensive. Art can also incense and challenge us, make us
      squirm, make us think."

      The librettist Alice Goodman, reached in England, opposed the BSO's
      position. According to the BOSTON GLOBE, she said: "I don't think there is
      anything harsh or insensitive in those choruses, anything that isn't true.
      The time for escapism is past; I feel strongly the worst thing we can be
      offered now is some placebo. I don't hear the BSO saying that what we have
      done is false. What they are saying is that it is too hard for us to hear,
      and instead we need something gentle. If they were saying this is an evil
      and degenerate work and what it says is a lie, then there would be an
      argument for not putting it on. To perform the choruses now would say
      something about the kind of society we are, what we are capable of saying,
      and what we are capable of hearing"!

      This year there had been a production of "The Death of Klinghoffer" in
      Finland, and - even after September 11 - there was a concert performance in
      Amsterdam. The choruses have been performed in Italy, Australia, the
      Netherlands, and England; in America, they have been performed by the
      Cleveland Orchestra and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra in Minnesota.

      "The Death of Klinghoffer" has elicited a storm of
      protest from rightwing militants, and even death threats. No fewer than
      six opera houses agreed to mount the initial production by Peter
      Sellars. But, after the premiere in Brussels, the Glyndebourne Festival
      backed out, as did the Los Angeles Opera, where the sets were destroyed
      under mysterious circumstances.

      No one who looks at the Middle East with the slightest objectivity
      would blame the opera for partiality. For such a stand, one has to be a
      fanatic oneself! The message of "The Death of Klinghoffer" is undoubtedly
      constructive: Jews and Muslims, Israelis and Palestinians [and Americans]
      are on board the same ship,
      and they must struggle to find a way to live together!

      Against the suppression of the arts,

      Séamas Cain,
      <http://seamascain.writernetwork.com>
      Phone: 218.879.8628
      E-mail: <seamascain@...>
      323 Fourth Street
      Cloquet, Minnesota
      U.S.A.
      55720 - 2051

      -------------------------

      We, the undersigned, writers and musicians and artists, endorse and
      support the Call by Séamas Cain for a boycott of the Boston Symphony
      Orchestra, a boycott of its season ticket-sales and individual
      ticket-sales, a boycott of its CDs, tapes, or other commodities sold by or
      for it. We will not tolerate acts of aggression against creative artists!

      Protests against the management of the Boston Symphony Orchestra may
      be directed to <webinfo@...> and/or <pkramer@...>. Phone protests
      may be directed to 617.638.9270 and 617.638.9377 and 617.638.9375.

      Tom Gilliam,
      [Duluth, Minnesota}
      <tpgilliam@...>

      Tom Carr,
      [Oakland, California]
      <ait-california@...>

      Rick Milanov,
      [Boston, Massachusetts]
      <rick_milanov@...>

      Patrick O'Neill,
      [Houlton, Maine]
      <ait_maine@...>

      Patrick Halpin,
      [Warrensburg, Missouri]
      <iwa.missouri@...>

      Nick Levashov,
      [Devil's Lake, North Dakota]
      <IWAnorthdakota@...>

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