Thursday, September 28, 2017


I first heard the Sydney Symphony Orchestra live in 1965 in the Great Hall of Sydney University in Orientation Week. They were playing the New World. And it was a new world with which I was suddenly in love.

I have three loves now - Kim, Sydney and Music.

Now, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra Board of Directors has resolved, apparently unanimously, whatever that might mean, that:

"There is no question that the SSO strongly supports the rights of all citizens to place on the record their views, by way of private and confidential postal plebiscite and as such, the company does not feel it has the right to take a position and commit our stakeholders to be on one side or the other and had decided to remain neutral."

Weasel words. I suppose we should be grateful for small mercies - they at least support the right to vote, but even that seems a stretch for them, in that they have to say so.

Never one to mince words, Leo Schofield says it like it is, calling them cowards. Which They Are. Cowering in the face of whatever it is they fear - loss of patrons I suppose. Well, they just lost this one. And fear is what it is; fear of what exactly in their case, other than dollars, is another matter.

Leo continues

"In defying the palpable solidarity of the arts community and its manifold supporters, the craven directors of the SSO have, by this decision, aligned themselves with the antediluvian Catholic Archbishops of Sydney and Brisbane, the ginned-up contributors to the skewed letter pages of the Australian, the smoke-screening non-entities of the Christian right and those parliamentarians too cowardly to put the issue to a vote on the floor of the house."

"But despite the current frenzy of piety, hypocrisy, prejudice and hatred, whether by a victory in this farcical process or by the sheer force of history, Australia will, and sooner rather than later, bow to the irresistible force of time and join the twenty-two other enlightened countries that have legislated for same sex marriage"

"The reason the board, supposedly unanimously, has opted for this course is that they don't want to politicise music. Utter drivel. Music, even in the pursuit of change, has always been political."

There is no abstention. There is only Yes and No. Abstention is a default No.

If I hadn't just renewed my sub, I would now not. Whatever concerts I might be interested in in next year's uninspired programming, I'd be more than happy to take a chance on. That's how I feel. Music for me is all but completely an emotional experience. And so is my politics.

As I said to them today - 'I am deeply saddened by the failure of the SSO board to have the courage and decency and respect for all persons to publicly support the Marriage Equality issue. There is no way that I (and I suspect others) can divorce that from how I feel about the organisation. I am absolutely in shock. Even a change of mind on their part I would now see as a capitulation to public ridicule, rather than a reflection of their mind set. This will take a long time to come to terms with.'


Anonymous said...

Disappointing but what good will come of Leo's dudgeon? Last round I recall was when he pulled up stumps in Hobart - not a story that ended well for the creditors of the Brisbane outfit.

As to the SSO board and whoever is responsible for the statement released in its name, tin ear and bum note are the phrases that come to mind. By the last paragraph it still goes off the rails as it manages to endorse the "democratic" process of the plebiscite.

wanderer said...

Well, Leo's dudgeon is what brought it to my attention, so that's one thing, and the story isn't about Leo, it's about why they said anything, and then what and how they said it.

As far as I'm concerned, they need some blow back.

Anonymous said...

Agree they need some blow back. What I had in mind was that the unfortunate (being mild here) statement only seems to have been published after Leo blew the whistle on the internal announcement the day before. SSO management should have waited before (to use a current vogue phrase) doubling down. Hindsight shows and I think more careful reflection would have shown that taking it on the chin in silence would have been better.

wanderer said...

Regardless of the sequence of events in this case, or others, one really interesting aspect of this whole survey debacle is that it has flushed out what people really think, or want to be seen to think.

And we end up with the Rugby League getting an American rapper to sing a same sex song at half time, and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra withholding support.