'I don’t see what the difference is between smashing up a shop, or smashing up a concert'

'I don’t see what the difference is between smashing up a shop, or smashing up a concert'


norman lebrecht

September 02, 2011

One of this morning’s respondents to slipped disc hits the nail bang on the head. Here’s Alan Williams’s letter:

I’ve probably been more in sympathy over the past few years with the views of the protesters than most people who are posting on here. I don’t think they helped their cause by this protest, and I think the BBC was right to avoid being manipulated. I also wonder whether the value of the event being disrupted in purely financial terms was probably similar to that of the property destroyed by the behoodied rioters down the road a few weeks ago. Those “protesters” certainly were dealt with in a more draconian fashion – but then, they were working class and inarticulate, and the target of their wrath was the cultural products they most aspired to. Peaceful protest is an important right which urgently needs protecting, and I don’t see what the difference is between smashing up a shop, or smashing up a concert. It’s still peoples’ time and energy that is being wasted in the end.


  • William Nicholson says:

    There’s absolutely no comparison between making noise in a concert and destroying livelihoods. Alan Williams is too comfortable to comment on such things. And wasted energy? If he really thinks war or rioting and the taking of life or property is just a bit of wasted energy, he ought to remove himself from his comfort. He admits his blindness: “…I don’t see what the difference is…”.

    If your view of the world of politics and the value of human life and property is based on relationships within the concert hall, Mr Lebrecht, you also need to remove yourself from your comfort.

    • Gramilano says:

      I too, must remove myself “from my comfort”, as the first thought that came to mind after reading this morning’s reports was the similarity between rioting and protesting; riots are protests after all. In my blog today I wrote:

      “About thirty pro­test­ers were in the hall, but even one would have been enough to dis­turb the con­cert, a fact which, along with the recent Lon­don riots, makes one reflect on the fra­gil­ity of social cohesion.”

      Certainly here there were no looters swinging from the acoustic mushrooms or thugs stealing organ pipes, but to refuse to see a connection seems to be a little blind too. A protest could quite easily have taken the form of leaflet throwing, or chanting during the applause, but to interrupt the music ruins the pleasure of a paying public… but guarantees you get heard on the radio!

      • William Nicholson says:

        I commented on Mr Lebrecht’s previous posting here: http://www.artsjournal.com/slippeddisc/2011/09/disrupting-art-is-it-ever-justifiable.html

        For me, music is more than the performance, though a great performance is obviously one of the purest aesthetic experiences a person can have. Music and its performance takes with it the space in which it is contained; it becomes that space, and all in that space take part in the performance – the building, the performers, the audience, (anyone else) all interact. As a minor musician of sorts myself, I understand how important all of these connections are.

        But as for protests, I don’t know anything about them, nor how to protest successfully, even if I found anything to protest about. I don’t see that the concert last night was disrupted, but that it was added to. The only thing I took umbrage at, was that Mr Williams could not see the difference in the effect on lives between the London rioters and the Proms protesters. I agree, however, that I am a little blind too, but in a democratic world, our foci are all slightly different.

  • I thought you might be interested by the following statement by a collection of Italian organisations, including the Italian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel, about plans to protest against the IPO and Mehta at the Milan and Turin concerts on Tuesday and Wednesday:

    Comunicato stampa 9 settembre 2011
    Oggetto: Settembre Musica ignora, come il Salone del Libro, il problema dei
    diritti umani

    Nell’ambito di Settembre Musica 2011 si terranno due concerti della Israel
    Philarmonica Orchestra (IPO) diretta da Zubin Mehta, il primo a Milano, il 13
    settembre 2011 alle ore 21.00, al Teatro degli Arcimboldi, il secondo a Torino,
    il 14 settembre 2011 alle ore 21.00, all’Auditorium Giovanni Agnelli –

    La Israel Philarmonica Orchestra (IPO) continua a prestare i suoi servizi
    all’esercito suonando per i soldati israeliani nei loro avamposti militari.
    Sul sito dell’IPO si può leggere “The IPO plays in subscription series, … and
    special concerts for IDF soldiers at their outposts”.
    http://www.ipo.co.il/eng/About/Profile/.aspx (L’IPO suona in stagioni in
    abbonamento … e in concerti speciali per i soldati israeliani nei loro

    Il PACBI (Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel)
    ha più volte sottolineato la complicità dell’IPO nel coprire le continue
    violazioni israeliane del diritto internazionale e dei diritti umani e la sua
    partecipazione alle campagne di propaganda del Brand israeliano, come quella che
    si è svolta a giugno con l’occupazione israeliana di piazza del Duomo a Milano

    Israele continua ad occupare militarmente la Cisgiordania, Gerusalemme e la
    Striscia di Gaza. In totale sprezzo del diritto internazionale, ha usato e
    continua a usare la forza militare per annettere nuovo territorio, confiscare la
    terra dei palestinesi e costruire insediamenti illegali.

    Le numerose risoluzioni dell’ONU approvate dal 1947 non hanno mutato la
    situazione. I governi del mondo non hanno fatto nulla per porre fine
    all’occupazione israeliana.
    Il 9 luglio 2005 la società civile palestinese ha rivolto alla comunità
    internazione un invito a fare quanto è stato fatto a suo tempo per rovesciare il
    regime di apartheid in Sudafrica, una campagna di boicottaggio, anche culturale,
    di disinvestimenti e sanzioni contro Israele.

    Per queste ragioni chiediamo a MI-To Settembre Musica 2011 di cancellare i
    concerti dell’orchestra dell’esercito israeliano.

    In ogni caso, effettueremo un presidio il 13 a Milano e il 14 a Torino, a
    partire dalle 19.30, per contestare la presenza dell’orchestra israeliana e per
    condannare l’insensibilità morale delle istituzioni culturali milanesi e
    torinesi, come è avvenuto a Londra in occasione del concerto alla Royal Albert
    Hall l’1 settembre u.s.

    Circolo Internazionalista di Torino
    ICACBI, Italian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel
    ISM-Italia (International Solidarity Movement – Italia)
    Comitato Ricordare la Nakba

    Torino, 9 settembre 2011