With apologies to Ebenezer Scrooge, I’m surprised how much this puerile article by Igor Toronyi-Lalic in the 13 December issue of The Guardian (UK edition) rankles my otherwise cheery Christmas bonhomie.
At best it is about the worst submitted op-ed piece I’ve read all year; most probably, to drive reader traffic toward the author’s currently running performance project in London, the Contemporary Music Festival. Conversely, it maybe just be a manifestation of woeful ignorance if not outright stupidity?
The basic argument put forward in the article is that composers who have not studied with the ‘right’ people or at the right school or university, or without the right publisher or, heaven save us, have the wrong profile (what does that actually mean?) remain outsiders ignored by both the orchestral establishment and classical music publishers – who apparently according to Toronyi-Lalic constitute a cartel – and can therefore, by definition, clearly be up to no good whatsoever.
Why there is a picture of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra attached to this piece when clearly the author’s criticism is supposedly linked to UK orchestra sector is a further anomaly.
At this point, the article seems to diverge into an unsubstantiated critique of composers not working within the orchestra idiom being shut out from being performed by the identified same denounced orchestras. The avant-garde composer, Jennifer Walshe is cited as an example with linked reference to her chamber opera XXX Live Nude Girls as evidence of “living great” composer being sidelined. At this point, we’re on pretty shaky ground.
Preposterous as this article is, it is this quote that finally sends me over the edge: “Music too, it seems, has fake news. It seems to me a perfect example of the kind of straw man set up by marketing departments, whose vanquishing can be used to claim an orchestra is being groundbreaking.”
Why am I so incredulous? Because this is the non-sequitur that follows this admonition: “It’s an attitude that is based on the presumption that the audience is dumb. If orchestras believed that audiences were normal, curious human beings, like you and me, they would not spoon-feed them or talk down to them. They would not think that music constantly needs propping up with screensaver films and light shows.”
Whoa! Continue Reading →