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"Musick has Charms to sooth a savage Breast"


Not since Susan Sontag decided that what a besieged Sarajevo really, really needed was a performance of 'Waiting for Godot' (I'm not making this up) have artistic types come up with something quite so spectacularly muddle-headed:


The United Nations orchestra.

Yes, really. If all the UNO was intent on doing was playing high-end elevator music for sundry dictators and so forth, the initiative would not be of any great note, but nope, it has much, much greater ambition:

"The Orchestra is a unique project which will galvanize support for the UN through music and multi-media projects focused on the UN’s ideals, values and priorities"....The innovative concept is the brainchild of [Director of the United in Music Foundation] Mr. Boogaard who approached the United Nations with the support of the Government of the Netherlands. The most important objective of the Orchestra is to communicate the essence of the United Nations to hundreds of millions of people and to show the world what the United Nations stands for. In so doing, the Orchestra will become a communications tool for the UN. “We often need a thousand words to get a simple message across and sometimes we only need one language: music. I view music as a way to inspire people to embrace the ideals of the United Nations and to feel the need for voluntary action.

"Mr. Boogaard’s career has included five years as a business manager of the Ricciotti Ensemble -- a 40–piece youth orchestra -- during which he produced some 400 concerts in unusual locations, from the cathedral tower in the city of Utrecht to the southernmost point in Africa on the Cape of Good Hope, from an opera for the homeless to a concert tour through war-torn Bosnia".

Mr B is Dutchman. I wonder if his concert was in Srebrenica....

The orchestra, naturally, will not be sticking to Mozart: "The Orchestra will be composed of 52 professionally-trained young musicians from all the world’s regions and cultures (Only 52 regions and cultures? Fancy. C). When the Orchestra plays abroad, it will include guest musicians from the countries being visited. The Orchestra will play music from around the world or music specially composed for it, but will not be a classical orchestra".

I look forward to the Janjaweed militia laying down their arms, and outbreaks of peace, love and understanding in trouble spots worldwide.

Suggestions for the orchestra's repertoire would be most welcome.

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Blogger hatfield girl said... 5:56 pm

Whenever some administrator from the musical world holds out the begging bowl the musicians who are to perform in these schemes are invariably described as 'young'.

While it is a characteristic of the acquisition of perfomance technical skills that they can be displayed at remarkably few years of age, it is the years of work into performance maturity of old musicians that truly involves and enchants. If the UN is to so forget its purposes as to pay for music then at least exclude all those who are too young to know what they are doing.  



Anonymous verity said... 8:34 pm

Interesting thought, HG, and true, of course. And it is usually lefties like, oh, Mao Tse Tung who promote the young ... and the implication is always that the young are marching forward into a brave new (socialist) world.

Anyway, instead of sitting through a concert performed by idealistic young UN musicians, why don't we just bomb the building on the East River. Or send in Rent-o-Kill. Less inconvenience to traffic.  



Anonymous nomad said... 6:47 am

Suggestions for repertoire? How about Tchaikovsky's 6th symphony - otherwise known as the Pathetique - which would seem to be appropriate for this waste of public funds?

On a wee point of pedantry, the southernmost tip of Africa is not actually at Cape Horn; it is several miles to the east at a place called Cape Agalhas. On my global perambulations, I make a point of collecting extremities and Agalhas is among my collection. Got the t-shirts and photos to prove it!  



Blogger Croydonian said... 8:57 am

HG - a good, and important, point.

Perhaps older musicians are too cynical for this sort of thing, and would rather not be touring the likes of Baghdad, Grozny and the like.

Nomad - Thank you. And a thoroughly worthwhile outbreak of pedantry too.  



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