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Classical Music Agony Aunt ALICE McVEIGH
proposes a New York Philharmonic Orchestra tour to
Pyongyang, Tehran, Harare and Rangoon

Dear Alice,
I don't know whether you've heard, but Terry Teachout in The Wall Street Journal recently drew attention to the fact that the New York Philharmonic (under Lorin Maazel) has accepted an invitation to play in -- of all regimes -- North Korea. In a trenchant article he observed that a more appropriate programme than the proposed Dvorák New World Symphony and Gershwin's American in Paris would be Shostakovich's 4th Symphony, seen by many as an exposé of Stalin's terror. Can you think of a better work for the purpose?
Disgusted in New York

Dear Disgusted,

I can't, personally, but perhaps some people could (Britten's War Requiem?) I was as appalled to hear this as you, however, and it actually fired me with a still more inspired notion.

I mean, why stop at Pyongyang? Surely the rulers of Zimbabwe, Burma, Iran and many other countries deserve a lift from one of America's top orchestras just as much or even MORE -- especially the ruling military in Burma, who as we know have had a specially rough year. Lorin Maazel's heart must absolutely bleed for them.

Here, therefore, is my all-purpose proposed tour for the New York Phil to Pyongyang, Tehran, Harare and Rangoon;

Bernstein's Overture to Candide (in this 'best of all possible worlds')
Brandenburg number 3 by Bach (only two bars of which is not hectically vivacious)
Beethoven's 7th (often known as the 'apotheosis of the dance')
Offenbach's Can-Can accompanied by Lorin Maazel and Kim Jong-Il / Ahmadinejad / Mugabe / the entire Burmese junta dancing on stage. They can improvise an exit to the receptions out of this, possibly doing the conga until offstage.

Yours, equally disgusted,

Copyright © 28 December 2007 Alice McVeigh, Kent, UK

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