Where Anne-Sophie Mutter got it wrongmain
The German violinist argued yesterday that concert halls should be given the same privileges as churches during the Covid period.
She said: ‘We have a basic right to freedom of art and freedom of religion. I cannot understand that religion is given priority over art, because this basic right is food and not luxury. Art gives us hope and a view into another beautiful dimension and a shared sensual experience, as of course does a church service.’
The flaw in her argument is one of perspective. Places of worship have reopened because of an urgent public need to pray, to commune, to remember the loved ones we are all losing. The clergy and the the political authorities have responded to that pressure on both humantiarian and mental health gounds.
There is no comparable urgency to reopen concert halls. The public is prepared to wait until they are safe, as they have shown throughout the Covid year. The older segment of the audience has abstained altogether. The priority of audience members is safety above art.
It is the musicians who need concert halls to be open and, while no-one should belittle the validity of their need, it is not yet matched by popular demand for a resumption of live performances. Politicians will not act until there is real public noise.
Ms Mutter was speaking as a musician. She was not listening as a citizen. That’s why, I’m afraid, he case will fail.