Can you imagine this happening now? Can you imagine three of the US's most famous musicians leading a performance in the National Cathedral under the banner of, say, 'Musicians Against Military Intervention'?
No. I miss the days in which the US had a genuine opposition, when opponents of militarism could speak up, could play Mahler in the National Cathedral.
The performance has its ragged moments, but I find it moving precisely because it is a testament to a better age. Perhaps the ideals were foolish, but foolish ideals are better than paranoid ideation any day.
Alex Ross has an interesting piece on this performance here.
Since the original post, I've encountered a rather better transfer of the recording, which I'm now reposting. As the US presidential elections near, and we face the prospect of a republican candidate who is a kind of cross between Ronald McDonald and a toilet brush genuinely representing the deepest wishes of a substantial majority of the citizens of the US, I look around aghast. Where, where are the people who will stand up and say stop? Who will urge the use of the wealth, power and influence of the US to bring an end to poverty, disease and degradation of the environment? Who will urge the US to win friends and thereby win the peace it apparently desires by, well, being friendly?
Such an awful silence.
Mahler : Symphony No 2
Barbara Hendricks, Jessye Norman, Musicians Against Nuclear Arms.
National Cathedral, Washington, 1984