Plenty of views have been voiced, one way or another, as to whether the Seattle Symphony was right to book a sexist rapper for the summit concert of the League of American Orchestras conference. We have heard from participants that this was just a few minutes of a program that contained several world premieres for symphony orchestra. We also know that the video has been seen by 1.5 people in just three days. The Seattle Symphony has proclaimed it a triumph.
All well and good.
Here are a few reasons why it’s the worst possible signal for the orchestra world to be sending out at the end of its darkest American season.
1 A song in celebration of women’s bottoms is (a) degrading to women, (b) demeaning to men, (c) bad for box-office; those bottoms need to be sat on audience seats.
2 Full orchestra used to be the loudest sound on earth. Now it is drowned out by a rapper’s amplification. Thanks for reminding us of that defeat.
3 Rap is a divisive Afro-American male genre. We stand for plurality, diversity, inclusion. Thanks a bunch, Seattle.
4 Symphonic music is fighting for its survival. This past season, one orchestra was locked out and others went bust. The audience is aging and shrinking. The genre is losing mass relevance. Those of us who uphold it do so out of conviction, arguing that we are saving a chunk of western civilisation and resisting dumb-down demands from politicians, marketing experts and society at large. Seattle surrendered to those demands. At a high visibility moment in the orchestral calendar, it handed the pass to the enemy. Thanks again, Seattle.