Rising outrage at the Concertgebouw’s upskirting video

Rising outrage at the Concertgebouw’s upskirting video


norman lebrecht

August 31, 2017

First reactions to an insensitive piece of Dutch marketing.


From the conductor and oboist Nicholas Daniel:

Appalling sexist rubbish. Just who do the Concertgebouw expect to attract to concerts with this kind of advertising? Simply NO.

From the writer and critic Jessica Duchen:

This, my friends, is why we have to have conferences about women’s work in classical music and why we keep having to fight sexism in all its forms. This is the Concertgebouw trying to be clever: the caption reads “Do you have the wrong idea of classical music? Come by and discover what classical music really represents”. But that doesn’t make it OK. They should remove it at once.

From the pianist Brenda Ogdon:

I cannot believe it from such a cultured and world wide famous orchestra such as the Concertgebouw !!! I agree that whoever is responsible should be fired immediately. What can one do against such filth and prejudice ?

From Jackie Leach Scully:

Given recent publicity about harassment of women (online and elsewhere), the notorious ‘upskirting’ and so on, this is a serious error of judgement. They should be persuaded (by potential customer response) to pull it. Twitter storm anyone?

From the writer and critic Basia Jaworski:

This is meant to be an advertisement for classical music. Intended for young people to lure them into the Concertgebouw. I have no words for it.



  • boringfileclerk says:

    This was done in typical Dutch cheeky fashion. Stop with being so addicted to outrage. It’s a visual pun on an old violin joke. Was it in bad taste? Probably, but Europe is know for this kind of thing. No one should be surprised by this.

  • Ungeheuer says:

    Bernard Haitink should join the chorus

  • Graeme Hall says:

    But I’m confused, I thought all Europeans were cultured and sophisticated – unlike we poor sad little Englanders..

    • Max Grimm says:

      No need for moot, sweeping comparisons.
      This is a spot for Entrée, a membership based program that offers discounts on many concerts taking place at the Concertgebouw and is geared exclusively at people under the age of 35. The large majority of members fall into the 17-25 age group.
      Last I heard, 17-25 year olds in most parts of the world were similarly “cultured and sophisticated” and advertisements targeting said age group would naturally reflect that.

  • A crass piece of….. fill in that blank! Dutch cheeky fashion is just fine as long as a woman is being ‘exposed’? A campaign to promote music/denigrate women and turn Bach into trash all rolled into one. Shameful and now, time to ‘name and blame’.

  • NYMike says:

    IMHO – “Much ado about nothing.” If it gets more people to the concerts, fine.

  • Max Grimm says:

    No need for moot, sweeping comparisons.
    This is a spot for Entrée, a membership based program that offers discounts on many concerts taking place at the Concertgebouw and is geared exclusively at people under the age of 35. The large majority of members fall into the 17-25 age group.
    Last I heard, 17-25 year olds in most parts of the world were similarly “cultured and sophisticated” and advertisements targeting said age group would naturally reflect that.

  • Anon says:

    It is a fair reflection of the jokes made by pretty much every orchestral musician, much of the time. If we get rid of everything which ‘might’ cause offence we end up with a lot of bland nothing; and music certainly shouldn’t be about bland nothing. At least, most proponents of classical music get upset by what they perceive as “bland nothings” of some contemporary composers; most of those who want young people in the audience get upset by rules and ritual of the concert hall: I’m surprised they don’t welcome more rule-breaking and controversy in the advertising of music therefore. Or do they only want the results they are after if it can be achieved in a bland proscribed-by-committee manner?

    This advert has already achieved it’s purpose – it’s been noticed, and is being talked about. That’s surely a win if you’re an advertiser.

  • John Borstlap says:

    What most people in the Western world (and beyond) don’t know, is that the Netherlands are in the avantgarde of populist anti-culture warfare. From those lovely sixties onwards (of which the music of Louis Andriessen is an apt symbol), the country considered itself an enlightened guide in the emerging Brave New World of nitwit cultural destruction. Although socially sensitive to the poor, the immigrants, the prostitutes and the desperate victims of elitist domination, anything reminding the political and cultural circles of cultural achievement or value – where classical music finds itself helplessly against the wall – provokes a deeply-felt hostility against any phenomenon that reminds the typical Dutch ignoratus of his deplorable inferiority. That is why the cultural climate in the country has eroded to a greater extent than in other European countries – except the UK, but that nation does not really feel itself involved in the European idea – since in Holland, there never was a tradition of cultural value which could function as a barrier against the revengeful masses. That is why populism is a natural part of the country’s self-identification, and why it has government foundations financially supporting populist concept art and concept music with stunning budgets in the millions, ‘art’ which does not require any cultural awareness neither in production nor in consuming, on the exclusion of the local top artists who build their career abroad, or remain locked-up in dire circumstances.

    The Concertgebouw building (which is, let it be noted, an organisation separated from the Concertgebouw Orchestra) is in trouble because of the rising tide of populism which considers ANY serious art, and especially classical music, as an instrument of suppression by the bourgeoisie, hindering the type of fun as represented by pop, so they gamble on next generations accepting the building as a sexy place with mind-blowing bums. But they will be thoroughly disappointed, both the bum seekers and the building’s staff.

    But all this is merely one signal among many:


  • Melisande says:

    The timeless saying “Anything goes”, especially at this time of the year when new students start their first encounter with the world of learning and sometimes in a broad sense also culture, the video is a banal example of the ‘state of mind’ of those who made it and of those (perhaps grown-ups) who consented to it. The first are forgiven, for they don’t know (yet) what the Air is about, but the latter should be blamed. They didn’t dare or succeed in the task of upbringing and even more serious, they poisened the minds of the younsters between 17 – 35 years of age with the idea of: FUN – CHEAP – EASY.
    However, both will find out that art is a different cup of tea and that ‘cultural air’ is a phenomenon to discover and keep sacred. A word that nowadays is becoming more and more obsolete.

  • Mark Henriksen says:

    How do we know that one day, strolling down a street in Salzburg, Mozart didn’t see some skimpy underwear, when a breeze came up and think “air on a G string” as a little pun? Apparently he had a mind unhindered by all of today’s restrictions and would have thought this was funny.

    • John Borstlap says:

      This comment shows the problem so many people have with the notion of context. Of course Mozart would have found it funny, and the picture in the video is in itself really funny, albeit on a rather juvenile level. But because of its low-level and immature nature, it does not belong in the marketing tool box of an organisation, an internationally-renown concert hall for classical music, which is a form of high art *). It is a self-refuting gesture, offensive for serious music lovers or parents who would like to take their offspring to introductory concerts, and patronizing for the targetted youngsters themselves, which is the worst way of getting their interest. Also the gesture lies about what will be on offer in the hall. It is wrong on all possible sides.

      Mozart was a fun-loving man as most artists were and are, but he kept any entertaining vulgarity out of his art. The fun in his operas, for instance, is always stylish, he would not have needed an air blower to make his audience smile.

      *) For the readers, suffering from an egalitarian world view: there is nothing wrong in defining certain art forms as better, more interesting, richer in meaning and experience, and therefore more important than other art forms, as there is a considerable difference between the food that enters the mouth and the eventual result of the digestive process.

      • Mark Henriksen says:

        I read both of your posts and it is apparent that you see this ad as something larger; an example of the decline of the classical arts, which are perceived to be elitist in Holland. I would make two points. The first regards branding. There isn’t necessarily any truth in branding; it is simply creating an image that will attract some desired segment of the population to the product. The brand here is not sex at all but rather, humor; to imply classical music is not stuffy, but that it can be light and playful. Secondly, the product is still truly classical music. It is not a pops concert featuring Penny Lane with an audience sing-along, or something even more populist. Not to negate, at all, your concern about the rise of populist arts, I’m just saying that this ad is something less sinister and not cause for alarm.

      • Anon says:

        John, yer wot? Don’t be daft – Mozart certainly didn’t keep it ‘out of his art’. We’re talking about the same Mozart as “Leck mich im Arsch”, K,231, I assume.

        • John Borstlap says:

          These were side jokes for private use and certainly not meant for Viennese audience consumption. (I don’t think emperor Joseph or Leopold or Baron Van Swieten would have appreciated such things.)

          • Inspector Morse says:

            Oh yes they did, Joseph II, Leopold and Baron van Swieten were all active cross dressers in the Lodge , “Zur neu gekrönten Hoffnung” where they established true concord.

  • Rgiarola says:

    They already took it out of the “air”. Not availabkle anymore, so curb your enthusiasm my dears! 😉

  • Martin says:

    I urge all of the negative commenters to get a life!

    What’s wrong with people being offended nowadays about almost everything they don’t like and starting to throwing the ism’s out like they know what they’re talking about.

    The board of Entree (the 7500 member youth friends club of the Concertgebouw and Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra’s that made the ads) consist, amongst others, of some highly classy young ladies. So if anyone should be offended it should be them! Not people who read half of the story, make their judgement based on a headline, not understanding the purpose of the video or probably not even watched the video itself.

    Throwing out all the ism’s or suggesting that someone should get fired over this just shows how pathetic the political correctness has become by a small group of very thin skinned people that get offended by just about anything out of the ordinary. Sometimes it happens that you see something you don’t like or that offends you!

    Martin Schippers
    Trombonist Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra

  • Dave Allen says:

    They need a Leprechaun over there


    • Melisande says:

      Hilarious Leprechaun! Thank you.
      In the meantime the clip has indeed been removed, although on Vimeo it is still to be seen if you log-in.
      At 19.30 hrs pm the following reaction appeared in one of the Dutch papers and it reads:
      “The coordinator of the Entree Association , Micha Windgassen (no pun intended – Melisande), says that they have expected critisism, but that one have to look at the 20 seconds clip with a wink. It is logical that there would be some complaints, but many people react positively. Precisely for the reason to pull in youngsters whom we usually cann’t reach, we have chosen for controversial. We hope that one does understand this and so the clip will be looked at with a think, fat wink”.

      Poor, thin and intellectually a very childish excuse.

      • Rgiarola says:

        Bravo Melisande!

        Many ones here including the holster had been believing that things like Cagamel, would bring back young audience. Phony things don’t work, but funny things do. Concertgebouw is a jewel of orchestra and hall. If someone think it is bad joke, I can tell you that it is much better than a joke about a fly flying during a Berliner Philharmoniker concert (AKA Mr. Gustavo Cagamel joking about the violins). I can even dare to say that Concertgebouw was less disrespectful comparing with the Murder’s supporter usual kind of jokes.

  • Maxim says:

    Well, I am surprised nobody mentioned that this video is from 3 years ago and was the contestant and the 1st prize winner of the The YouTube Filmhack 2014. Guys, who created it made few more videos on the same topic.
    Just by looking at the amount of views on each video I can say that it never became truly viral. Until now…Hahahaha

    This is the background story of how everything was created:

    The Video explains everything in details: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKuH86rFnOk

    “Create a YouTube TrueView campaign for The Royal Concert Hall, that attracts a new, younger target audience to the Concert Compas.” This (in a nutshell) was the challenge set by JongeHonden/Dutch Young Creatives and Google for The YouTube Filmhack 2014. A competition in two parts: After a first round three winners were chosen, who won a trip to the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity with the legendary Dutch Young Creatives bus. But until then, they had 2 months to produce their idea with the help of several production companies.

    Three more videos from the same creators.

    Firebird: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P4v7SWuph1M

    The Carnival of the Animals: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4XkxQ2ecdBw

    Tchaikovsky – Waltz of the Flowers: https://youtu.be/x-jZafstKSg