Political demonstrations at concert halls prompt discussion

Posted on: October 10, 2014

“Protests in the concert hall are nothing new: think of the riot-inducing premiere of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring in 1913 or the backlash at the 1861 premiere of Wagner’s Tannhäuser,” write Naomi Lewin and Brian Wise on Thursday (10/9) at WQXR’s “Conducting Business” blog. “Recently, protesters for a variety of causes have picketed the Metropolitan Opera, the Israel Philharmonic and the Valery Gergiev’s Mariinsky Orchestra, among others. It happened again on Oct. 4 at a St. Louis Symphony concert, when a group of demonstrators protesting the police shooting of Michael Brown began to sing, chant and unfurl banners from the balcony, moments before the Brahms Requiem. Beyond the sensational headlines, is there something deeper at play? And can a political demonstration actually shed light on the music that audiences have paid money to hear?” The blog links to a discussion among Sarah Bryan Miller, classical music critic of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, who witnessed the St. Louis Symphony protest; Philip Kennicott, art and architecture critic of The Washington Post; and Kenneth Woods, a conductor, cellist, and author of the blog A View from the Podium. Alex Ross’s article about politics and classical musicians will appear in the fall issue of Symphony magazine, which comes out next week.

Posted October 10, 2014

Pictured: A peaceful protest delayed the start of a St. Louis Symphony Orchestra concert on October 4, featuring Brahms’s Ein Deutsches Requiem.