Yielding to student protests, Michigan removes Bright Sheng

Yielding to student protests, Michigan removes Bright Sheng

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norman lebrecht

October 07, 2021

The University of Michigan has removed the composer Bright Sheng from teaching a composition class after student protests over his showing a film of Laurence Olivier playing Othello in blackface.

Another professor, less qualified, will teach the class.

Sheng holds the title of Leonard Bernstein Distinguished University Professor of Composition.

David Gier, dean of the School of Music, Theatre & Dance, said the change of teacher would ‘allow for a positive learning environment.’

He added: ‘Professor Sheng’s actions do not align with our School’s commitment to anti-racist action, diversity, equity and inclusion.’

The student newspaper has more details here.

These are dark days for Michigan, which has already lost two famed music teachers (here and here) to sexual misconduct.

Sheng’s treatment is reminiscent of the persecution he faced in China after Mao’s Cultural Revolution. The students have been empowered and the professors are unable to teach.


University of Michigan School of Music

UPDATE: Here’s an example of U. of Michigan’s elevated standards:

Comments

  • ann arbor says:

    the composition students at michigan are clueless and aren’t talented in the first place.

    • Fred Funk says:

      Could somebody post a copy of the class roster?

    • Dale Brenner says:

      True.

      Norman: “These are ‘dark days’ for Michigan…” how nicely put!

      They won’t have anybody left to teach any courses as fast as the kids get them fired.

    • justin says:

      Once again, the Asian is being used as a stand-in, as the strawman, for Blacks and Whites to fight their culture war.

      The real target is not Sheng, he just got caught in the middle of the food fight.

      99% of the commenters here, whether defending or denouncing Sheng, don’t have the faintest idea of who Sheng is or what his work is like, or truly cares what happens to Sheng, but they sure have taken sides long ago on the Black-White culture war.

      • anon says:

        There may be a culture war, but I do not think the sides are delineated racially. There are many black people who are repulsed by what these protests/campaigns demand in their name, and many white people who advocate for “cancel culture”, and who like to think they speak for all black people (they do not; *nobody* speaks for a whole race).

      • John Borstlap says:

        I know Sheng personally, know his work, know his standing and his past. Everything I say about him is based upon professionalism and insight, and has nothing to do with taking sides in hysteria and paranoia. This is a case of absurdism and ignorance, and a shame for that university. Sheng as a person and an important composer should be defended and helped in an absurd case of injustice and stupidity.

        One does not have to have an opinion about the BLM culture wars to see that what happened to Sheng is a grave injustice.

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    I guess I’m insensitive, as I simply don’t ‘get it’. I don’t get how showing Larry Olivier in black face creates an ‘unsafe’ environment for the students. Ridiculous, yes. Unsafe? . . . huh? I think Jim Harbough creates a far less safe environment for U. of M. students, but no matter. I would think that explaining the context of the ‘black face’ to the students, after the fact, should have sufficed. Splitting hairs over Professor Sheng’s apology is even more absurd. Again, no matter. I doubt many significant composers in the future will be coming out that program.

    • V. Lind says:

      It was a movie. A 1965 movie. It’s a story in which the marriage of a white woman to a man of colour is a major issue. The actor made up — you know make-up, undergraduates? — to illustrate that point.

      How is it that young adults cannot watch a movie without feeling “unsafe” (from what? please outline). How is it that a class featuring THIS movie does not manage to dispose of the make-up issue in discussion that surely follows the viewing?

      Why is this generation of students so set on demonstrating what big babies they are? In my student days, such reactions to a performance of this play by a cast of utterly distinguished actors would have been met by a scornful “As I was saying” sort of response by the lecturer, after any such intervention was completed. And any such intervention would have been a passing comment that the make-up was so bad it was distracting, and other students as well as the prof would have made the utterer feel that he had shown himself incompetent to discuss the work at university level.

      This is what dumbing down has wrought — the incapacity for intellectual pursuit, which has been replaced by focus on the vanity fostered by a couple of generations of child-centric child-rearing.

      As for the university’s action: it is incomprehensible, and reprehensible, and ought to be protested by every faculty association in the land.

      • Ms.Melody says:

        V.Lind,
        One of the reasons why I read this blog every day is that I enjoy your logical, sensible, articulate comments so very much. Thank you. Brava!

      • BrianB says:

        The “unsafe” whine is itself pure theater, even more virtuosic it seems than Olivier’s acting.

      • Bobbo says:

        Laurence Olivier was a notorious cultural appropriator. For instance he played the role of Hamlet, even though he was English and Hamlet was Danish. Thereby continuing the sorry tradition of oppressing and discriminating against Danish actors.

    • Richard Fredrickson says:

      I’m with you. This is absolutely absurd. Who gave the students (and who are they and are they not doing so well in his) this much power over what Bright is trying to teach. I was acquainted with him years ago. Sweet man. I think this shows U of M as being rather weak. Olivier was in a totally different time then now.

  • Tamino says:

    Fascism can come in different colors. This is fascism. The mob creating fear and intimidation, the institutional leaders giving in to the mob, is often a symptom of fascism.

    • David A says:

      Maybe take a course on politics 101 first and then get back to us with the definition of fascism! While you’re at it, look up right wing populism, conspiracy theorists, and alarmism.

      • Tamino says:

        I‘m rather knowledgeable about fascism, thank you.
        Antiintellectualism, mob protests creating academia to bend to the shitstorm of the mob. Freedom of speech and freedom of teaching under threat. All known phenomena of fascistic uprisings.
        Maybe you take a deeper look instead.
        Fascism does not necessarily have to rise on the political vehicle of right wing populism (only)!

        • John Borstlap says:

          It is correct that mob hysteria or any mob mass paranoia is a breeding ground for any form of totalitarian movement and especially fascism which thrives on such movements, because of the easy opportunity to mobilize and exploit it.

          In this case it is only mob hysteria and a government body that gives in, so: not (as yet) manipulation or exploitation. But the case could easily have been used to get rid of Bright Sheng and then it would be an early stage of fascism.

        • David A says:

          Yes, one can always take things out of context and identify similarities. I also sympathize that these issues trouble you, and a lot of people on this forum. I do not necessarily agree with this case either.

          However, comparison to fascism is simply incorrect. First of all, most scholars would agree that fascism is a far-right political ideology, exemplified by their emphasis on conservative nationalism and authoritarianism against egalitarianism. This does not mean there aren’t any dangerous left-wing extremism, but they are of a different nature and mechanism.

          Fascists sell a fantasy version of reality based on lies to concoct a nationalist narrative about the decline of their nation due to threats by external minorities. They preach for the need for a strong, authoritarian leader to make their nation great again.

          This is clearly not what is happening here, especially as we look even closer into the different actors and their political positioning. Fascism always came out of exploiting weaknesses in democratic institutions and systems, and their tactics is to appeal to the majority, not the minority.

          Liberalism and the idea of equality and freedom is founded on what Kant calls reciprocal coercion. Our freedom to do, is only assured by restrictions of freedom on others, and therefore, on ourselves. The absolute positive freedom the right wing populists advocate for, is actually illiberal, historically and theoretically.

          Therefore, concluding from these incidents that the students are “illiberal” and “fascist” is just a total misunderstanding of these concepts due to lack of appreciation for history and the broader picture of things. You may argue this is just semantics, but actually, it isn’t. Each issue needs to be identified accurately in order to find the right solution. Again, I don’t mean to entirely defend how the students and the university handled this situation, but reading all these alarmists comments throwing words and concepts they don’t understand just makes me very sad.

          • Tamino says:

            Careful. Apparently there is widespread confusion, even among scholars, what constitutes fascism.
            One must differentiate between the essential phenomena, and the attributed phenomena and variations, its political implementations bring with them.

            In its core, fascism is the demolition of the trinity in democracy. Independency of Legislative, Executive, Judikative (branch of democratic government)
            And its replacement with a union of Executive and the undemocratic forces of the Capital. [il fascio. it. for ‘a bundle’]

            Right wing populism, antiintellectualism, instigation of mob hysteria to silence dissident voices etc. are “only” phenomena to establish fascism by said undemocratic forces.
            The US is apparently currently on the edge of falling into a fascistic state of affairs.

          • David A says:

            Defining these concepts are not easy, and there are debates amongst scholars, that’s for sure. However, I suggest you look into the differences between fascism, authoritarianism, totalitarianism, communism, for example. What you describe above is not what people consider defining characteristics of fascism. Even with Trumpism, there are many parallels that can be drawn to fascism, but there are differences that still need to be acknowledged.

          • Immigrant from China says:

            Sorry to tell you this, but you have no clue what’s happening in America today is a carbon copy of culture revolution in communist China. Even China regretted culture revolution for a decent while. It amazes me how Americans are burning down their own culture and country like it is the most evil country in the word. You are just clueless and on extremely dangerous path

          • John Borstlap says:

            Thank you for these very sane words.

    • CRogers says:

      Yes, the university⁰ is SPINELESS!

  • Jewelyard says:

    Disgusting. Outrageous. Shame on University of Michigan.

  • christopher storey says:

    Utterly disgraceful: the spokesman does not seem to realise that this action is in itself racist

  • Frank Flambeau says:

    It might be a case where a “big name” was actually a mistake.

    Michigan has some really good people in music so was he really needed at all, other than for publicity reasons and rankings?

    By the way, the article should have noted that the class that this occurred in was an undergraduate one where students, being younger and less worldly, are more susceptible to influence.

  • Gerry Feinsteen says:

    I can’t help but wonder how many students who were busy learning and would have spoken up but were silenced out of fear of and/or motivated to support this radical agenda so as not to lose friends or be ostracized by the most fervent among the herd.

    Classrooms are no longer safe teaching spaces; history will soon be redacted and only to be repeated.

  • Marj says:

    Narrow minded literalism. Students need to be taught how to see things in context, clearly.

  • adista says:

    When all this insanity is over Sheng and Olivier will still be legends while “Sammy Sussman” and his friends will be scraping the griddles at Waffle House.

  • Sean says:

    They will get the staff they deserve.

  • RW2013 says:

    Sometime I think these improbable stories are merely invented for the purpose of riling us.

  • Kenneth Berv says:

    file:///var/mobile/Library/SMS/Attachments/ff/15/4D64631F-5269-4875-B2FD-5A80AE4FE589/IMG_7106.jpeg

    . And what about the main point, and why Billy Shakespeare is immortal-his HUMANITY. He-and the great artists who expréss his art-demonstrates that all of us, whether King or peasant, Jew or Moor or Christian, warrior or coward, strong or weak, share a common humanity. And whatever actor can communicate that (Hamlet or Lear played by a woman) deserves our deepest attention. Anyone who suppresses that is limiting their own emotional and psychological development and has no right to do that to others.

    Do your students want “safe spaces” where they won’t feel “uncomfortable”? Then they should stay in their beds at home. University education? FUGGEDABOUTIT

    • John Borstlap says:

      Yes, but with the caveat that the bed is not safer than any other space. Statistically, most accidents happen in bed.

  • John Borstlap says:

    Very shocking!

    This is so absurd that one doubts whether this is a mere case of fake news.

    There should be a campaign to get Sheng a decent tenure at a decent university.

  • Anthony Sayer says:

    America has hit rock bottom and has started digging.

    • Jack says:

      Yes. I wonder how far the digging is going to go?

      I can envision a time in the near future when traditional freshman orientation hijinks will be replaced by a somber procession of white students engaging in self-flagellation and ritually renouncing their white privilege.

  • John Borstlap says:

    The article in the Michigan Daily is also shocking, it depicts fullblown paranoia, the absurd hounding by a freshman student, the mob gathering in shared indignation caused by their own ignorance, repeated humiliation of Sheng who could do no good whatever he tried, and to top it all: throwing the ‘incident’ together with sexual misconduct of other lecturers at the university.

    A full confirmation of mass hysteria exactly as happened during the Chinese cultural revolution, ignited without the help of a totalitarian regime.

  • Bone says:

    Hopefully Professor Sheng will learn from this experience and compose music that celebrates DEI at UM.
    It should begin with a whoopie cushion and end with a “sploosh.”

  • Micaela Bonetti says:

    Asini!
    Allievi e direttore della scuola!

  • Sixtus Beckmesser says:

    You can’t make this stuff up, or maybe you can. Latter-day Red Guards cancelling a Chinese composer whose family survived Mao’s cultural revolution sounds like season 2 of the Netflix show “The Chair.”

  • Anonymous says:

    His dismissal on grounds of racism is deplorable. I do wonder, however, how great a loss has been incurred. How much class time did he devote to showing a film? If watching the film was truly necessary to learning how to compose, couldn’t he have asked his students to find their own preferred production on YouTube to watch on their own time? That approach would have freed up class time for actual instruction and side-stepped the whole controversy to begin with.

    I wonder if more notable composers who took up professorships (Vaughan Williams, Messaien, Saint-Saëns, and so forth) employed similarl time-wasting techniques.

    I think there is nothing legitimate to learn about racism in this case, but perhaps a lot learn about the vacuity of current university instruction and the bankruptcy of contemporary classical music composition.

    • John Borstlap says:

      A whole bunch of nonsense.

      To understand how a great Shakespeare play has been converted into an opera libretto, and how the dynamics of the plot went into the music, you need to see the entire play (if you haven’t seen it before, which is very likely with these kids), and to see/hear the entire opera. This is a professional demonstration how a subject translates from one cultural form into another, and for any composition student this is a fundamental lesson. On top of that, both the play and the opera are masterpieces, entirely rewarding on taking-in, on whatever occasion.

      Sheng has great experience with truly good and musically-effective opera writing, as his bio demonstrates, and his success with his impressive opera at SF Opera, so: these stupid kids were offered a great lesson from a great composer. And they fell over make-up of an actor on a video of half a century ago and found that affecting their feelings of safety.

      • Anonymous says:

        It’s important that they be familiar with the musical masterworks too, but it’s perhaps not so productive that they listen to them or read through the scores of them during class time. If he has important things to say about how a theatrical production and an operatic production of Shakespeare interact he can provide that insight in class based on what they have watched at home.

        • John Borstlap says:

          Yes, but considering the behavior of these kids I could imagine that Sheng wanted to be on the safe side and wanted them sitting still and listening and viewing with attention, without texting on their mobile phones and meanwhile listening to pop music.

  • MacroV says:

    It’s still bad, but note they’re removing him from this particular course, not firing him. But it would probably be hard to continue if a lot of students in the class were rebelling.

    • V. Lind says:

      But surely it is urgent that these student rebels were introduced to the concept of discussing disagreements?

      As for suggestions above that showing the film was a waste of time, I disagree. (And as someone who has stood at the front of a class or two, I can assure you that depending upon them to do their own background work, be it choose a production they preferred or actually read the damned play, is a fool’s errand).

      In order to make whatever point he was driving at in the translation of a great work to the operatic stage, Bright Sheng chose one version — and by choosing Olivier’s, he probably thought he had found the most neutral — and made sure that the whole class saw it. It seems inconceivable that there would not have been discussion afterward, and that these oh-so-troubling frights to the delicate young minds could not have been part of the conversation (academically irrelevant as thy are).

      That the university has given in to what is clearly a trouble-making agenda is the most disturbing thing of all.

    • John Borstlap says:

      Yes, let’s say he was ‘half-fired’, clothed in the eufemist wording of ‘stepping back’.

      • Neil B. says:

        It’ll be good if someone from U. Mich clarifies this. But coming from a school administrative perspective, removing him from the class does appear to be the best choice since its a slap on the wrist for him but he’s essentially not let go. ‘Half-fired’ would be akin to actively reducing his workload or a demotion, but it appears that he still goes on his teaching duties as usual and is thankfully relieved of this class of pitchforkers.

        • V. Lind says:

          Removing him from that class endorses the idea that he did something wrong in showing a respected film, endorses the idea that students and not professors determine the curriculum of a course, endorses the idea that a student — a young adult — who can be upset to the point of feeling “unsafe” from watching a movie — can overturn a serious academic pursuit, and removes the whole point of a class at this level, in which different point of view are explored and discussed — NOT dictated by a mob of ignorant, meme-spouting young people.

          I doubt any of them has ever read the play. Any discussion of that particular version should focus on how it treats the source material.

  • Sir David Geffen-Hall says:

    Utter stupidity. Glad I’m not a UofM grad or I would be embarassed.

    • V. Lind says:

      These students seem beyond any embarrassing. I cannot imagine students of my vintage complaining that they were “afraid” or that they did not feel “safe” after seeing a film of a Shakespearean play. Any objections to it would have been aesthetic or, more likely, based upon the interpretation of the text — which is why I imagine Bright Sheng chose this one.

      Subsequent ones had more of a political agenda — which is fine, if your subject is Othello interpretations through the ages. But the professor chose one rooted in the classical tradition, a “straight” version, in order that his students could see the source of the great opera as fairly as possible before moving on to the libretto and the score that took the work into another genre.

      • John Borstlap says:

        Excellent explanation. You cannot explain Shakespeare’s Othello in a ‘modernized’ version if you want to show the transformation into Verdi’s opera, you need a production as close as possible to the original.

  • mary says:

    I can’t wait to attend Sheng’s course on Madama Butterfly and Turandot next year.

    Which video will he choose among all those featuring white singers and choristers mincing around with taped-up slanty eyes to represent Asians?

    Or does he know better — instinctively, naturally, natively — than to blindly and naively use white representations of Asians in plays, cinema, operas?

    • V. Lind says:

      Which all-Asian filmed versions would you recommend?

      Are great sopranos to give up the roles of Butterfly and Liu forever?

      • Tamino says:

        Who started the whole idiocy, that only people matching the phenotype of the role can now play it?
        Is it because people by now are so dumbed down yet full of themselves and false entitlement, that they lack any imagination?

        What’s next?
        Mob outrage, that the Klingons in Star Trek are not played by actual Klingons?

        • John Borstlap says:

          I was waiting for that. I think it should be real klingons, we have their language already, but where are they themselves? Are they hidden from us? And you can see they’re mere actors in disguise, shame on them!

          Sally

    • Printer excel says:

      As an Asian musician, I think if Sheng were to teach a class on Turandot or Madame Butterfly, Sheng absolutely have to show the stereotypstes portrayed in these opera because all of these operas are composed by white composers and they are inherently racist even with Asian leads? So if he were to teach a class on them, he better be talking about and showing the yellow face and racism in these operas.

      I had to sit through a showing of John Adam’s Nixon in China in my music history class with ALL white actors doing yellow face. No acknowledgement of this being problematic afterwards from the prof Either. It made me feel uneasy but I understood that at the time of premiere was of a different time.

      What Sheng did wrong was that he didn’t acknowledge that the black face was problematic; he also didn’t conduct a meaningful conversation about this issue with his class directly after showing the film. He was insensitive, but his apology is not ours to accept since we were not in his class and we have no right dictating how the students should feel. Even if I believe that Michigan students overreacted and his white composition colleagues seem to have a personal grudge against him….

  • Michael Taylor says:

    How are these students going to cope if they have to study some real racism? Perhaps they could start by being shown footage of the nazi death camps. As for comparing Olivier’s performance with the minstrels, that is utter nonsense.

  • sabrinensis says:

    Unbelievable. Is there a set of balls remaining anywhere in the music business?

  • SMH says:

    What the SMTD is doing to Bright Sheng is wrong. Unbelievable. Otello does have a problematic history in both theatrical productions and opera, but to call students seeing a film from 1965 “unsafe” is over the top. Too bad students will never be able to listen to legendary recordings by Pavarotti, Domingo, John Vickers, Del Monaco and others. UNSAFE!!!!

  • SMH says:

    Interesting article on the subject:

    “Shakespeare’s writing mostly predates the transatlantic slave trade and the more modern obsession with biological classification, both of which gave rise to our contemporary ideas of race. When Shakespeare used the word “black” he was not exactly describing a race the way we would. He meant instead someone with darker skin than an Englishman at a time when Englishmen were very, very pale. Although Othello is a Moor, and although we often assume he is from Africa, he never names his birthplace in the play. In Shakespeare’s time, Moors could be from Africa, but they could also be from the Middle East, or even Spain.”

    https://slate.com/culture/2015/11/why-is-othello-black-understanding-why-shakespeare-made-his-hero-a-moor.html

  • Judy says:

    Oh, good grief! Olivier also played a vaudeville performer, Shylock, the ancient Greek Oedipus, Richard III, and a Nazi, none of which he ever actually was. Are the students going to insist that only musicians, Jews, Greeks, kings, and Germans can perform those roles? Just utterly ridiculous.

  • Mike says:

    lol, if u r a composition student at Michigan University, I like my martinis with gin, your future is either a bartender or disgruntled barista.

  • Ich bin Ereignis says:

    Utterly pathetic, but it shows the backbone — or lack thereof — that these so-called institutions actually possess. In fact, these are no longer places to learn, but rather corporations whose continued business is dependent upon pandering to the whims of their customers. Their first and foremost priority lies in preserving a respectable corporate image — certainly not in genuine learning, as this latest episode clearly shows. It ultimately is all about money — about satisfying customers who are entitled to dictate to an institution what it does because they are paying for a service, a little bit like a dissatisfied customer asking for their money back within the timeframe of a store’s return policy. It really is no different. Except for Mr. Sheng’s witch-hunt treatment, none of this matters much, as I’d be shocked if more than one or two of these composition students ends up making any sort of living in music. The world of classical performers is an incredibly toxic and dysfunctional world, but I understand it’s actually nothing compared to the Orwellian world of academia, where mediocrity, conformity and pandering to the lowest common denominator can get one quite far, and where genuine talent can actually be a hindrance, judging from the current roster in the U of M composition department. Shameful and utterly disgusting.

  • BrianB says:

    Tragic.

  • japecake says:

    No student has ever applied to the University of Michigan School of Music in hopes of studying with compositional benchwarmer and superannuated boy scout Evan Chambers. He wants you to know he’s Very Serious about protecting children [note: not actually children] from historical performances of Shakespeare. He and Tracy Flick-ish colleague Kristin Kuster, who, in a remarkable show of collegiality, tagged the Pulitzer Prize Committee and MacArthur foundation in her retweet of the would-be student journalist’s original tantrum, certainly bring honor to their school and their profession as they performatively hold cardboard aureoles above their own heads with one hand and push Sheng off a cliff with the other.

  • J Barcelo says:

    Why is anyone surprised by this? Allan Bloom wrote “The Closing of the American Mind” over 30 years ago. This was predicted and anyone with an open mind saw it happening. But the liberal media, academia, the leftist politicians and even the music industry fed the flames…and here we are. I wonder if their once legendary marching band still plays “Lassus Trombone”?

    • Mick the Knife says:

      I’ve heard they no longer say “Go Blue” because of the implications it supports law enforcement.

  • Monty Earleman says:

    The video at the end is the most pathetic, embarrassing thing I’ve ever seen from a University. And Sheng is the one getting in trouble??!!!!!

  • Novagerio says:

    Show the Al Jolson singing Swanee…

  • H. says:

    Notice how Mr. Sussman has been deleting all of the negative comments he continues to receive on his Medium hit-piece. Some were over the top, sure, but the overwhelming majority were constructive. True cowardice.

    • Ich bin Ereignis says:

      From what I see, all of them have been deleted. So much for “investigative journalism” — which seems to be censoring opposing views.

  • This was not a case of a university “surrendering” to student mob. This was a case of a Red Guard-style mob doing the biddings of professors and administrators.

    This has been going on for over 50 years, since racial socialists took over academia. They instituionalized the illegal, unconstitutional, and despicable system of racial and sexual discrimination that has since gone from strength to strength.
    However, it has gotten worse in recent years, with the institutionalization of illegal, unconstituional DIE training.

    Prof. Sheng was a fool to apologize. He had done nothing wrong. That the thugs would also condemn his apology was thoroughly predictable. Racial socialist thugs always demand apologies, and always condemn the apologies.

    Prof. Sheng must sue U of M for millions.

    When I taught college in NYC and NJ during the 1990s, I had constant problems with “student” troublemakers, most of them female. They always enjoyed the support of faculty, staff, and administrators. I went over my bosses’ heads, to security, and in one case the college president, and ran ’em out. Either their going to be in charge, or the teacher will.

    I also had a racial socialist enforcer seek to humiliate me during Q & A in Massachusetts, after I’d delivered paper on remedial ed, “Ebonics” and progressive pedagogy. I shouted her down.

    As an undergrad in the late 1970s and early 80s, I’d seen courageous men (both professors of sociology), Thomas J. Lambert and Lewis Coser, deal with such thugs in the same manner. Coser had been chased across Europe by the Nazis.

  • Freewheeler says:

    Clearly all figures of authority carry racist and multiphobic baggage with them and are hence unsuitable for teaching the young. Students should just get together in teacher-free universities and teach each other non-offensive stuff.

    • John Borstlap says:

      I would love that! I greatly suffered at school where all the stuff was concocted by white dead males. You feel so isolated and helpless.

      Sally

  • Nathaniel Rosen says:

    Disgraceful cowards. I support Bright Sheng.

  • Nick2 says:

    A total disgrace! The students are babies and the faculty morons!

  • John Borstlap says:

    Most of the updated tweets show the level of a childrens’ playground. Especially the message of Prof. Chambers hits the bottom of embarrassment.

  • minacciosa says:

    The more this develops, the angrier I get. A fucking freshman gets his panties in a bunch because he’s an SJW “ally” of black folks and has a complete inability to contextualize – anything! Sheng should never have apologized but I would imagine his being quite confused by this teapot tempest. He should bring forth a lawsuit and name Sussman in it along with the school. Give it back to them, good and hard.

  • H.Z. says:

    Let’s not overlook the fact that Bright Sheng is a pretty darn good composer. Certainly one of the greatest composers of our time.
    Seven Tunes Heard in China for solo cello played by Yo-Yo Ma: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nXKBnWwrgPA

  • S. Walter says:

    This whole controversy is sad.
    It seems EVERY class in EVERY subject should begin with the professor stating “As a disclaimer, I am teaching concept that you should be informed about, but parts of this may make you uncomfortable. That is not my intent. Please see me after class if you have questions or comments.”

  • Guest says:

    The U-M Composition Department is inbred. Half the faculty, including those attacking Bright Sheng, are graduates of the U-M composition program. First they brownnosed their way onto the faculty. Then, over time, they politicked their way into positions of power within the school. Now they’re trying to use that power to chase out their betters and install people as mediocre as they are. It’s an old story but none the less disturbing for that.

  • M McAlpine says:

    Well of course if the professor is such a plonker himself (as shown by the ‘composition message’ which any self respecting musician would surely be totally embarrassed by, it’s no wonder he raises such a bunch of idiots among his students, young people sadly to whom discussion of history and performance (and acting!) is foreign and who feign ‘hurt’ at the slightest provocation. Perhaps they should visit some of the death camps which still exist in the world to see what real ‘hurt’ is like.

  • CRogers says:

    All this reminds me of two incidents. 1. When I was a drama and communities arts student in the late 1980s, there was a rebellion amongst the students in the year below me. The course was a practical, skills based course with just two written assignments, one of which was an academic assignment in sociology. A small minority of students decided they didn’t want this-‘we’re artists’-and tried to get it taken off the syllabus and in the process seriously disrupted the sociology tutor and the students who were happy to do the session. These students were listened to but were told that they would need to appeal to the academic body and present a case. Realising that the wheels of democracy are very slow they gave up and went back to moaning and trying to sabotage the option where they could. And 2. Later when I did counselling training, part of it was to go away for training weekends. One trainee came back and complained to the tutors and courses coordinator that they had just cried all weekend. Clearly the training had triggered lots of emotions. Counselling trainees with a growing awareness of their own feelings and where they come from would celebrate this emotional experience and see its validity as a trainee. When any of us are confronted with uncomfortable experiences we can see it for what it is and learn from it. On this occasion the individual complained. Clearly if tutors had been abusive in some way or insulting to the individual that would have been a different matter-but the tutors didn’t behave like this. This person was simply projectng difficult feelings onto them. This is my guess as to what is happening in the situations I’m reading about in Higher Education. Quite rightly the complainant didn’t get anywhere. As always, discuss…….

  • TerrifiedAndSilent says:

    This just in:

    The author of the article in the UM newspaper also apparently has posted it onto the largest conducting job/workshop/masterclass forum and listserv in the world.

    The article was originally tagged there as “masterclass,” so no doubt reached many aspiring and established conductors under the pretense of being an opportunity.

    They literally sent this tripe to the future’s programmers and conductors–the people who carry on musical performance and are seen as the “gatekeepers” of the canon.

    At best, many conductors will now reconsider programming Bright Sheng’s work.

    This is truly cancel culture, something I didn’t believe really existed.

    As for the music of virtue-signaling Evan Chambers, it appropriates Black musical culture of the southeastern USA. I look forward to receiving his apology.

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