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Tags: boston symphony orchestra | woke

Boston Symphony in Harmony With Ideals, Avoids Going Woke

andris nelsons conducts by gesturing with hands
Boston Symphony Orchestra conductor Andris Nelsons (Herbert Neubauer/APA/AFP via Getty Images)

Paul du Quenoy By Wednesday, 20 October 2021 09:53 AM Current | Bio | Archive

There is a magic to Boston's Symphony Hall. Designed in an elongated horseshoe shape, it is considered to have among the best acoustics in the world.

The city's world renowned symphony has returned to live performance this season under the slogan ''Reuniting in Concert.'' Refreshingly, there is no hackneyed gesture toward ''diversity,'' ''equity,'' or ''inclusion.''

This third week of concerts, which continue until spring 2022, may have gestured toward the times by presenting the work of a Black composer, William Grant Still. His "Threnody" (1965), a short piece composed on commission toward the end of his life, honors the memory of the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius, who had a profound influence on composers of Still's generation.

This selection rebuts, rather than reinforces, the tortured racial politics of our time. Still was Black, but he angrily rejected the idea that he was in any way a ''Black composer.''

''Why, then, isn't Aaron Copland called the 'Dean of White Composers?''' he reportedly replied when someone tried to reduce him and his work to racial identity.

In today's climate, such sentiments would -- at least to the progressive left -- mark Still as complicit in his own oppression by a classical music culture that is now held by people of that sad worldview to be inherently racist.

As Matthew Mendez, a doctoral candidate in music at Yale, makes clear in the program notes, Still ''simply wanted due recognition as a freethinking 'American original,' without undue reference to skin color.'' He wanted instead to embrace music as a ''universal idiom.''

These days, that really is something to celebrate, and under the baton of music director Andris Nelsons, the BSO gave an excellent tribute.

The concert continued with a superb rendition of Richard Strauss' symphonic fantasy on his opera "Die Frau ohne Schatten," or "The Woman Without a Shadow," which premiered in Vienna in 1919, just after World War I tore Central Europe asunder.

Far from politically correct, the opera tells of a mythical empress who must bear a child to save her husband, the emperor, from being turned to stone.

Her only chance is to offer an unhappily married common woman a life of splendor in exchange for her fertility. The mortal woman is tempted, but ultimately refuses, moving the gods to remove the curse and unite the couple in harmony to a joyous chorus of unborn children.

What would Planned Parenthood say?

Maestro Nelsons led an ethereal performance of this collection of the opera's leading musical themes, helped by his orchestra's solid brass and woodwinds. Thunderous applause greeted the selection, suggesting the concept family is still welcome in our concert halls.

The second half of the concert consisted of Sibelius' "Violin Concerto," played by the stunning Georgian violinist Lisa Batiashvili.

Arguably the world's greatest living performer of her instrument, she captured the solo parts, which are adversarial rather than complementary to the orchestra, with heavenly refinement.

Batiashvili encored her splendid performance with a traditional Finnish evening song to honor Sibelius' country.

Despite what you might read in the mainstream media, classical music and the traditional ideals behind it are far from dead, even in the bluest of states.

Paul du Quenoy is president of the Palm Beach Freedom Institute. He holds a Ph.D. in history from Georgetown University. Read more — Here.

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PaulduQuenoy
The city's world renowned symphony has returned to live performance this season under the slogan ''Reuniting in Concert.'' Refreshingly, there is no hackneyed gesture toward ''diversity,'' ''equity'' or ''inclusion.'' ...
boston symphony orchestra, woke
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2021-53-20
Wednesday, 20 October 2021 09:53 AM
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