French orchestra plays Beethoven in Saudi desert

There’s some controversy in Toulouse about the local orchestra flying out with the Mayor on a marketing tour to Saudi Arabia, which has any number of human rights issues that it refuses to address.

Lio Kuokman conducted, with soloists Renaud Capuçon, Edgar Moreau and Kit Armstrong.


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  • It is better to engage with such countries to help in the liberalisation process which , realistically would take generations to reach where we are today in the West. Would anyone seriously imagine that Saudi Arabia would resolve all its human rights issues, including its treatment of women, overnight? It is a good thing for this orchestra, a good ensemble by the way, to go there.

  • I don’t believe it does any good to boycott a country artistically for its political wrongs. Doing so economically, so that government and its supporters get the message where it hurts, might be effective, but music can convey emotional and intellectual messages to those responsive to it. These are not the people to be denied the potential for upliftment that quality music offers.

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