You are browsing the archive for Deborah Fink.

Saturday Art: Edward Snowden’s New Gig in Russia?

10:27 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Ed Snowden? - trumpeter closeup

This news item from The Voice of Russia late this week may be misleading:

Former CIA contractor Edward Snowden is planning to take a job in Russia in the near future, lawyer and head of a Public Chamber commission Anatoly Kucherena said on Thursday.

He did not specify the field Snowden had chosen to enter. “No comments, but as soon as he makes a decision, we will say it at once,” Kucherena promised.

Watching a recent performance of the excellent St. Peterburg-based Mariinsky Orchestra Friday, I was sort of blown away, looking at the trumpet section.  It seemed as if the soloist was a look-alike of Edward Snowden:

Edward Snowden's new gig?

Actually, the player who looks more than a little like Snowden, is chief soloist for the Mariinsky Orchestra, Sergei Kryuchkov, one of the finer orchestral trumpeters alive today.

Last week, Kryuchkov and his fellow players in the Mariinsky gave a set of New York concerts in Carnegie Hall.  The ensemble, and particularly its music director and conductor, Valery Gergiev, were greeted with protests from LBGTQ activists:

New York, NY (October 10, 2013) — Tonight, four members of the LGBT rights group Queer Nation disrupted the performance of the Mariinsky Orchestra, led by world-renowned conductor Valery Gergiev, demanding that Gergiev oppose the Russian government’s attacks on LGBT Russians and that Russia end its war on LGBT Russians.

Queer Nation members chanted, “Gergiev, Your Silence is Killing Russian Gays!” before the Carnegie Hall performance began. The protesters, who were met mostly with applause but also with some boos, were led away by security guards. There were no arrests.

Gergiev, the artistic and general director at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, is a longtime Putin friend and supporter. Gergiev has been honored by the Russian government and by the Russian Orthodox Church, both of which championed Russia’s anti-gay laws. Gergiev campaigned for Putin in 2012. The Mariinsky Theatre has received hundreds of millions of rubles from the Russian government.

“Valery Gergiev should not be able to perform without being called out for his vocal support of Russia’s anti-gay president,” said John Weir, one of the protesters. “Gergiev’s silence about Putin’s anti-gay laws is killing lesbian and gay Russians. We’re here to break that silence.”
Earlier in the evening, Queer Nation protested in front of Carnegie Hall. Demonstrators, including several Russian gay men and women, carried a 60-foot rainbow flag that read “Support Russian Gays” and held placards. Protestors also handed out informational flyers to arriving audience members and passersby.

On October 4, Queer Nation wrote to Clive Gillinson, Carnegie Hall’s executive and artistic director, asking that Carnegie Hall condemn the Russian government’s attacks on LGBT Russians. He declined, adding that “musical events are not the appropriate setting for political statements.”

I’m in strong disagreement with the notion that “musical events are not the appropriate setting for political statements.”  Cultural institutions such as the Mariinsky Orchestra, by receiving State funding, are reflections, however indirect, of State policy.  The Israel Philharmonic, which is State supported, has been disrupted occasionally by audience members protesting inhumane treatment of Palestinians: Read the rest of this entry →

Saturday Art: The Skies Are Weeping for Rachel Corrie on the Ninth Anniversary of Her Death

8:44 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

I. On March 16, 2003, Near the southeast border of Gaza, Evergreen College senior Rachel Corrie was run over by an Israeli Army bulldozer, and killed.  Four days later the United States invaded Iraq.

Soon after the war started, I decided that I would write an anti-war musical composition, centered around Corrie.  After sharing my proposed lyrics with her family, I got their permission to go ahead.  Six months later, The Skies Are Weeping was complete, and we were beginning to rehearse the work for soprano, small chorus and percussion ensemble with the University of Alaska Anchorage’s percussion group.

In the lead-up up to a public meeting about the work’s perceived anti-Israeli content, I became the subject of an incredibly intense on-line attack, peaking on April 7th through 10th, 2004, at hundreds of hostile e-mails per hour.  By the time the meeting was held, co-hosted by an Anchorage rabbi, I had decided that I couldn’t expose the kids in the percussion group or choir to the same vituperation and beyond that I was experiencing and being threatened with.

I cancelled the Anchorage premiere.

As word got out, 24 groups or individuals worldwide asked for copies of the score (the music the conductor uses) and MP-3 MIDI audio.  I sent the material out, and got 17 responses.  I followed through on the few with promise.  First choice was a group in Brooklyn, who eventually decided to drop the project.  Funding from generous donors might suffer, it was thought.  A small group in Toronto was seriously interested, but I was leery of their agenda, and backed away.

Eventually, I became convinced by London-based soprano and peace activist, Deborah Fink, to go with a London production sponsored mostly by Jews for Justice for Palestinians, as a benefit for Israeli and Palestinian progressive groups.

We were able to present The Skies Are Weeping on November 1, 2005, as part of a concert featuring other works about the conflict in Palestine.

I flew from Alaska to the UK to help with rehearsals, and my wife came over and joined me a few days before the performance.  Our hosts were so outgoing, energetic and positive about the concert project.

Craig and Cindy Corrie, Rachel’s parents were there, along with Jocelyn Hurndall. She is the mother of Tom Hurndall, another peace activist killed by the IDF in Gaza that spring.  Jocelyn and I held hands as the group played the memorial dance I had written for her young son.

We wanted to create a professional recording of the concert, perhaps to make a fundraising CD.  But the singers’ union needed a lot of money if they were to allow us to do that.  We preferred to use that money on the charities the concert supported.

So I recorded The Skies Are Weeping with a portable digital recorder that I set on the concrete floor beneath my front row seat.  Right below the choir.

Wednesday and Thursday I created a Youtube of The Skies Are Weeping’s London audio recording.  It includes all the lyrics, and occasional photographic comments on the content of the music. Read the rest of this entry →

Le Sacre de Automne – BBC Proms Concert With Israel Philharmonic Goes Off the Air During Riot

12:18 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

My dear friend, Deborah Fink, was one of the people who put this together Thursday in London.  Their ad hoc group, Beethovians for Boycotting Israel, created new lyrics to Ludvig van Beethoven’s paean to the unity of mankind, Ode to Joy, and sang it several times during the performance of the Israel Philharmonic at the BBC Proms Concert:

Israel, end your occupation:
There’s no peace on stolen land.
We’ll sing out for liberation
’till you hear and understand.

Ethnic cleansing and apartheid
Should belong to history.
Human rights cannot be silenced:
Palestine will soon be free.

BBC went so far as to take their live concert broadcast off the air for a time.

I’m not quite sure what I think yet, except that it was an astounding happening, which brings to mind the May, 1913 premiere in Paris of Igor Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps.  A major difference might be that after that opening’s scandal, people came to fully appreciate Stravinsky’s masterpiece.  There were no further disruptions of consequence.

In the case of the Israel Philharmonic, they can look forward to a future of a rising crescendo of cancellations and a growing chorus of protests.

Here’s a cell phone video of the portion of the disruption during Max Bruch’s Concerto for Violin: