I’ve heard the Mariinsky (formerly Kirov) Orchestra on a number of occasions, and one of the things that’s always struck me about this ensemble is the distinctiveness each section brings to the collective sound. Whereas many North American orchestras strive for homogeneity, it seems that the Mariinsky cultivates and encourages the unique properties of each family of instruments. As a result, the brass is brassier, the reeds are reedier, the strings are stringier, etc. With this approach, the Rite should explode in vivid colour.
I agree. The Mariinsky Orchestra – fabulous-sounding though it is – is a symbol of the Russian state. Moreover, Gergiev is himself a staunch supporter of Russian president Vladimir Putin. All of this makes the Mariinsky’s tour fair and appropriate game.
Some people may wish to boycott these performances – which is certainly their prerogative. Others may choose to picket outside concert halls. Outdoor protests at a concert can be a good way of attracting attention, as they are visible to passers-by and TV cameras. (However, I part company with anyone who thinks it’s a good idea to stage some kind of noisy demonstration inside the concert hall.)
And fortunately, on this particular occasion, there’s an easy way for people who want to attend this concert to also express solidarity with Russian gays at the same time. It’s an idea that’s been floating around on Facebook, and it’s worthy of transforming into a broad-based movement.
Wear pink clothing.
If Gergiev and the Mariinsky are greeted in every hall where they play by a sea of pink in the audience, the message will be entirely clear: We enjoy and admire your artistry, but we do not accept the persecution of people based on their sexual orientation. And ushers couldn’t eject anyone from the hall for “protesting,” as long as everyone is respectful of the music and concert-hall decorum.
Here are the concert dates for the Mariinsky’s tour:
October 2 – Chicago
October 4 – Montreal
October 6 – Toronto
October 7 – Ithaca, NY
October 8 – Princeton NJ
October 10 & 11 – New York
October 13 – Newark NJ
October 14 – Washington DC
October 15 – New York (again)
When art and politics intersect, issues can be complicated and personal choices may be rendered difficult. But this is one time when music lovers can have their cake and eat it, too. I hope that the “wear pink” initiative will spread. Please tweet this idea, post it on Facebook, and get the word out!
© Colin Eatock 2013