Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Classical music. Rocks.

Music can definitely be a force for good. I was watching BBC's The Culture Show doing its 2008 highlights, and they showed an interview with Gustavo Dudamel. He now conducts the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and just as exuberantly as when I saw him with the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra. He, and all the SBYO members, are products of Venezuela's long-running programme ("La Sistema") of using musical performance to provide positive role models for street kids who otherwise would have only drugs and violence in their lives. It's rather like the programmes that various places have which use sport for a similar purpose, only with fiddles instead of footballs.
Here they are at the Proms in 2007 doing the Scherzo from Shostakovich's 10th symphony.

I saw them doing the same piece a few weeks before and blogged enthusuastically about it.

Anyway - the point of this post is to mention a similar and much less well-known programme which aims to do the same thing for children in Occupied Palestine, diverting them from violent resistance to the Israelis to peaceful and productive musical activity. Here's the story. (Thanks to Chip for the link.)

Aside from the venomous comment from someone who appears only to have watched the video clip and not actually read the article, the points that stood out for me were (a) that a year when Israeli troops killed only 400 Palestinian civilians counts as a good year, and (b) the final paragraph, which I reproduce below.

"Palestinians put culture aside for a long time because they thought this problem would be solved soon," Aburedwan said. "People who came in 1948 said it was going to be solved in one or two months, one or two years, now it's 60 years and the people say: No more time for waiting. Waiting is just losing time."

And tempting though it must be to throw rocks at the people who brought violent death into your country 40 years ago and are still generously distributing it, playing Bach has to be better than hurling bricks. It's not as though the rocks have proved a significant deterrent to the nuclear-armed invaders, after all. On the other hand, I'm prepared to bet that having a Palestinian ensemble playing Bach to their compatriots being arbitrarily detained at checkpoints annoyed the hell out of the IDF. Oh, I expect some IDF soldiers rather enjoyed the music themselves: they sponsor the Jerusalem Quartet after all. However, as one of the main purposes of the checkpoints is to bully the Palestinians - to let them know who's in charge - anything which alleviates the suffering of those being kept there in the heat for hours at the whim of the IDF must hurt Israeli military morale far more effectively than any rocks.


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