The morning before the IPO Prom took place, I wrote what I had hoped would be a balanced explanation of my own personal 'journey' towards deciding not to attend it. After much soul-searching, I've decided to take this post down, so poisonous has the atmosphere become since the incident, which seems to have been a spectacular "own goal" for the in-concert protestors. It's sad; my sympathies are with the brave, peaceful and patient individuals I met in the West Bank, not with those in Britain who choose such methods to defend their cause. I hoped to introduce a voice of reason here on JDCMB, anticipating trouble around the Prom, but that trouble went a great deal further than I'd imagined, and its ongoing ramifications are extreme. I deplore the disruption inside the hall at the Prom and consider it counterproductive to its own cause. Nobody, other than the performers, has come out of it terribly well. For other sensible, after-the-event commentary, I recommend Dennis Marks and Entartete Musik. And also this letter from a Palestinian musician about the incident, which Norman Lebrecht has published on Slipped Disc.
For the peace of mind of my regular readers, I would like to stress that both I and my husband were safely tucked up at home on the night and didn't go anywhere near the place. The issue arouses strong feelings, but it needs to be tackled through political dialogue, not in a concert.
I'll leave you with two pictures and two thoughts from the original.
"Why does music have to get dragged into this at all?"
Yes, it's a shame - because the question of Israel and the Palestinians is way too important to be reduced to mudslinging around a concert. Activists don't always help their own cause - after all, the lady who stood up and started singing during a Wigmore Hall concert by the Jerusalem Quartet merely gave the other side an A1 perfect excuse to dismiss all pro-Palestinians as nutcases. This is tragic. The issue needs to get sorted on the world stage - otherwise it risks eventual escalation and disaster.
"Music can help bring people together."
You bet it can. And walls were built to be, someday, pulled down. We have to remember that.
I want to do positive things, not negative ones. I want to support musical education whenever I can, to show what music can do for children living in straitened circumstances, to forge dialogue, to champion the hard graft of the underrecognised who follow their ideals by bringing music as an augury for peace. I believe the pen is mightier than the hand grenade and that those who learn to play musical instruments will find them a very good alternative to guns when it comes to keeping their own spirits intact.