Row brews in the US over an ‘anti-semitic’ composermain
The Nashville Symphony is getting nervous about its upcoming performance of an opera by Roger Waters (pictured) of Pink Floyd, an outspoken anti-Zionist. Some believe his obsession with Israel makes him anti-semitic. Here’s how the Nashville orch is preparing for trouble.
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Dear Board Members, Musicians and Staff:
I am writing to make you aware of a developing controversy related to our upcoming performance of Roger Waters’ opera Ça Ira this Fridayevening. Last week, the local chapter of the National Conference on Jewish Affairs (NCJA) ran a full-page ad in the Nashville Scene, expressing concern over public statements Waters has made regarding Israel and Palestine — some of which have been characterized as anti-Semitic. (Waters, however, maintains that he is not anti-Semitic.)
I want to assure you all that by presenting Ça Ira, we are in no way providing Roger Waters with a platform to share his views on Israel, Palestine or Judaism, nor are we either endorsing or opposing any of his personal, political or religious views. The Nashville Symphony would never program a work that is intended to espouse or incite violence, hate or intolerance toward any individual or group of people in any form. After a thorough vetting by our team, it was determined that Ça Ira adheres to those critical standards. We programmed this work based on its artistic merit, and hosting the U.S. premiere continues our commitment to delivering creative and dynamic programming to the people of Middle Tennessee.
In early December, we had a very constructive meeting about this performance with Mark Freedman, Carol Hyatt and other leaders of the Jewish Federation, in which we listened to their concerns, and discussed the work to be performed (which is actually about the French Revolution). The NCJA is, of course, not the same organization as the Jewish Federation. In response to the NCJA ad, however, we did receive a couple of calls from patrons expressing concern.
We have learned that the NCJA Nashville chapter will very likely stage a public protest Friday evening at, or near, the Schermerhorn. As a performing arts organization, part of our responsibility is to facilitate and promote a public discourse on issues surrounding artists and their work. As such, we welcome any individuals or groups who wish to let their voices be heard on this particular topic, provided their actions are peaceful and do not interfere with the performance or the enjoyment of those who are in attendance.
Should you encounter individuals engaged in a protest at any point on Friday, I ask that you please be respectful of their right to assemble and peacefully share their views, just as you would any other guest or visitor to Schermerhorn Symphony Center.
We take this matter very seriously and have made preparations to ensure that everything goes smoothly on Friday evening. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to share them with me.
Alan D. Valentine
President and CEO
Schermerhorn Symphony Center
One Symphony Place
Nashville, TN 37201-2031