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February 28, 2008
The NY Philharmonic plays Hell
The audience for the orchestra in North Korea was without any doubt made up of the safest of the safe, the most loyal of the loyal, the most monstrous of the monsters that uphold the pure evil of the Kim regime. The killers, the jailers, the informers, the torturers. Kim's SS and his Gestapo.
These were the people the Philharmonic was entertaining. These were the people the musicians were in effect telling them, "we don't think you're all so bad."
Haven't we learned from the writings of the Soviet Union's surviving refusinks and dissident that in the prisons, in the gulag, political prisoners are deeply aware of how the civilized world treats their jailers? Mr. Mazel and his musicians have sent North Korea's political prisoners a message too: "We don't care."
Natan Sharansky has written how important Reagan's words were to the prisoners in the Soviet gulag. He has the intellectual and moral stature to address this as now one else.
How dispiriting it must be for the prisoners in the Korean gulag to hear from their jailers how one of America's, one of the West's, premier orchestras honored the regime that murders, tortures and imprisons them. And, traveled all that way to entertain the very same murderers, torturers and jailers.
Shame on every one of those musicians.
No one said to those musicians, "Play or we shoot you." I doubt any would have lost a job if they had refused to go along.
Every one of those top-drawer musicians had the choice of entertaining evil or not. Did any musicians even express dismay at being told what their venue would be? Doesn't seem to have been even one.
[Isn't it a leftist mantra to afflict the comfortable while comforting the afflicted?]
Maazel could have stood up and announced to the bloody-handed audience that "the next piece is being played for the prisoners in the Korean gulag"? Perhaps "Theme For the Common Man" or "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." Even better, they could have brought along a soprano or tenor with them. Even better yet, as the last piece the musicians could have lay down their instruments and, a capella, sung "The Battle Hymn of the Republic."
Instead of succor for "the serpent," those musicians could have given "succor for the brave."
Those musicians could have made us so proud, terrifying the slave-owners, and encouraging an enslaved people.
There's the perfect moment in "Casablanca" when Rick tells his band to accompany Victor Lazlo and play the Marseilles. Everyone in the Cafe American sings joins in and they overwhelm the voices of German officers singing a Nazi song.