You are browsing the archive for protest music.

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 →

Obama to Join Pussy Riot on Moscow Stage in Snub to Putin

11:09 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

If only.

Pussy Riot Painting

Obama joins Pussy Riot … never

However, the Obama administration is in a dilemma over what to do about the scheduled September Moscow meeting between the leaders of the United States and Russia:

The White House is deliberately leaving it vague as to whether President Barack Obama will attend talks in Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin if the saga involving former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden is unresolved.

Putin has invited Obama for face-to-face talks in Moscow ahead of a St. Petersburg summit in September with leaders of the G20 nations, and the White House announced on June 17 that Obama would both attend the summit and go to the Russian capital.

But that announcement was before Snowden fled to Moscow from Hong Kong on June 23 to avoid facing U.S. espionage charges for revealing details about secret U.S. surveillance programs involving phone and Internet data.

Snowden, stuck in the transit area of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport, has since applied for temporary asylum in Russia, putting Moscow further on the spot. The Kremlin said on Tuesday that Putin would not be the one making the decision.

Pressed on Wednesday on whether Obama will still go on the Moscow part of the trip, White House spokesman Jay Carney was vague.

“I have no further announcements on our travel to Russia. The president intends to go to Russia in September,” he said.

An Obama decision not to go to attend talks with Putin would register his displeasure with the Russian leader’s refusal thus far to expel Snowden back to the United States.

Although I’m among those who regard Edward Snowden as a whistleblower, there is irony in him relying on the same Vladimir who showed such a heavy hand in 2012′s conviction of two Pussy Riot members to severe prison terms, including “hard labor.”

While the two members of the punk rock collective, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, remain in hard labor penile penal colonies until March, 2014, the collective has just posted a new video. Highly critical of questionable ties between the Putin administration and some of Russia’s oil oligarchs, the video and its song have made the news:

The song itself has been posted and re-posted several places.  Here is the entire video, with its song, Like a Red Prison:

Here is link to a photo essay-diary posted by Pussy Riot, about the new song.

Here are the lyrics:

Gruel-Propaganda, Gruel-Propagandaaaa!

The country has hardly mastered
Mechanized labor.
More and more often when I’m working hard —
I am rude — don’t know if it’s appropriate.

Local activists flow down the pipeline,
Filling it with life and calling for destruction!
Federal Penitentiary Service, Interior Ministry, Emergency Situations Ministry, and Rosnano,
LUKoil, TNK, Rosneft, and Gazprom,

Gruel-Propaganda, Gruel-Propagandaaaa!

Get registration,
Evildoers at the oil towers,
Oil on the tables,
Sechin with crocodiles,
Like in a red prison.

Bathe the worker in the Norwegian fjord,
Cut off your penis like the Depardieu character,
You have a president like IranвАЩs ayatollah,
And your church is like it is in the U.A.E.

So, let everything be like it is in Qatar,
Evildoers at the oil towers,
Pumping till its dry,
A physics university teaches theology,
Epaulettes and oil wells,
Navalny in jail,
Hugo Chavez lives,
Like in a red prison.

Evil fucking sexist, leave the hole alone!

Homophobic vermin, out from history!

Don’t fuck with her pussycat,
She spends oil on something else.
In the Mordovian days’ quiet,
She makes salads and sometimes eats them.

Art like this begs several questions, like:

1).  Do they need a better lead singer?

2).  Will they address the Snowden affair next?

3).  When will such a prominent American punk group or collective tackle nasty oil politics so ardently?

4).  How long will it be before American indy bands, or even some mainstream groups begin writing about Snowden, or – more importantly – what the post-Snowden information cascades are revealing about our totally disappeared privacy and 4th Amendment?

Read the rest of this entry →