Friday, 4 September 2009

Slipped Disc on Religious Anomolies in the East West Divan Orchestra; and be impressed!

I've picked up a couple of interesting things from music blogs I follow.

The first is Slipped Disc, the blog of Norman Lebrecht, commentator and broadcaster on music, culture and politics, and an author. He comments on a review of the highly acclaimed, East West Diwan Orchestra, conducted by Daniel Barenboim, and made up of young Arab and Israeli players. Quoting Fiona Maddocks in the Observer, he says, 'It has been reported that some Muslim players in the orchestra were observing Ramadan by fasting until nightfall. It is interesting to note, in turn, that none of the Jewish players were observing the Sabbath. I have read no comment on this discrepancy. In a conflict that is avowedly faith-based, does one faith matter more than another?'

And he goes on to say, 'She has a point, and a very strong one. All creeds are respected in the orchestra's mission statement, but where some Muslim players maintain their observances and their pride in an ethical heritage, none of the Jewish Israelis, least of all their secular conductor, appears to show more than liberal disdain for the archaic rules of a discarded faith culture.

This is a serious shortcoming. Religious faith of all degrees, from mild affinity to wild fanaticism, lies at the heart of the Middle East conflict. If the Diwan does not represent all forms of faith, its role in the peace dialogue cannot be more than an ephemeral gesture.' It's created quite a stir!

In a follow-up post, he makes this statement, 'Whatever one's personal beliefs, however, all musicians ought to be aware that without religion there would be no music for them to play. It was the church that laid the foundations for symphonic music and a search for God that led most of the great composers to write as they did. Beethoven may have been anti-authority and Verdi anti-clerical, but with the lone exception of Richard Wagner it is hard to find a major composer before the 1918 who actively denied the existence of God and was not driven to compose by a religious impulse.' Again, the response is lively!

But then, for some pure entertainment, Tom Service, in his Guardian blog, directs us to an extraordinary performance of the Flight of the Bumble Bee, by The Philharmonics here. Sometimes you think you've heard it all, and then!


1 comment:

Graham Watts said...

Hi Geoff. Many thanks for your comment on my old redundant blog. The Spurgeon's post really came a bit out of the blue but it feels right and exciting. Trust you and family are well.
PS I'm re-launching blog under title 'songs from a strange land.'