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Taking Debate

I think it’s great when a community concert generates debate as spirited as this. But I’m always curious why there’s so much fear surrounding such debate -- people seem to think strong opinions are scary even before the whole thing degenerates into the predictable political rants and name-calling.

This particular debate boils down to a couple of perfectly valid opinions that don’t necessarily agree. One: a community orchestra has put it limited resources toward furthering a sociopolitical cause it believes in -- this is seen by some as laudable, by others as inappropriate. Two: when concerts are politicized, it can weaken their artistic impact, particularly when the music has been written to support a specific subject (as what one might call propaganda).

Amusingly, the liberal-elite and conservative tags are red herrings. The questions at issue would be just as relevant if a group had decided to do a concert to support the NRA. They are: how can a musical institution involve itself more deeply in the community in a meaningful way, with limited resources? How can music most effectively make a sociopolitical statement, or can it at all? (It helps, of course, for the music to be good.)

From where I’m sitting, even a little bitty argument like this warms my heart because it tells me that people are going to the Washington Metropolitan Philharmonic and caring about one of their concerts enough to think about it afterwards, and therefore tells me that it makes sense for the Washington Post to write about them. With limited coverage available, it’s not always easy to tell what is best for the Post to review. And most of the feedback we get about our on-line reviews of smaller local performances comes in the form of complaints that the reviews aren’t running in the paper. It’s hard to tell, from the number of hits the on-line reviews get, that even the people who so desperately want these articles to appear in print care enough actually to click on them and read the whole thing. I prefer over-the-top rants to dead silence.

By Anne Midgette  |  June 11, 2009; 6:30 AM ET
Categories:  Washington , from readers , random musings  
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Thank you mdmom4 and gorav.

To grexample:

Anne Midgette, Mark J. Estren, and Greg Sandow are hardly my guardians, and your comment that the Washington Post will soon shuffle you off only reveals your own, rare (in my view) self awareness.

And I was perhaps not clear earlier. I do support orchestras which hold canned food drives to feed the hungry in America, as well as individual musicians (e.g. Brian Ganz, a founding member of the Washington Chapter of Artists to End Hunger) and organizations which support the end of world hunger, a world free of nuclear weapons, and the end of malaria and HIV/AIDS, especially in sub-Saharan Africa.

International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) is a non-partisan international grouping of medical organisations dedicated to the abolition of nuclear weapons. They work with the long-term victims of nuclear explosions and accidents from Hiroshima to Chernobyl. Their work has been recognised with the 1984 UNESCO Peace Prize and the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize.

Posted by: snaketime1 | June 11, 2009 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Amen! I couldn't agree more.

Posted by: OperaLove | June 11, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Yes, grexample, for the exteme right-wing, censorship is part of its character and intelligence.

(Again, an earlier, measured reply was censored by the Washington Post editors.)

Posted by: snaketime1 | June 12, 2009 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Yes, grexample, the Washington Post editors earlier took your side and allowed you to continue your rant while blocking me, and perhaps others. This demonstrates a point that I made in my initial comment.

“Are you admitting to driving an SUV (or your own private jet, perhaps?) and indulging in this notion that you are offsetting "the damage" by giving money to maggot-infested, dope-smoking, good-time-rockin'-rollers doing nothing to help anyone in any real way?” (grexample posting under the Washington Post classical music review “Community Orchestra Turns to Tree-Hugging” by Mark J. Estren)

I am admitting no such thing. The other part of your sentence is your own testament to your character and intelligence.


"Since 2002, the international initiative myclimate has been one of the leading carbon offset providers. Lufthansa passengers can make an online donation directly from the Lufthansa website (, independent of a flight booking, or via a dedicated page at the myclimate site ( In addition to the emissions calculator, the web page contains detailed information about the myclimate carbon offset projects that will receive the Lufthansa donations. Donations will have no impact on Lufthansa ticket prices.

For its corporate clients, Lufthansa is providing a fully integrated solution via the Lufthansa Aviation Group’s subsidiary AirPlus (, to enable these companies to settle their carbon offset donations automatically.

For additional information regarding Lufthansa’s sustainability initiatives, visit"

For United Airline’s carbon offset program see:,6722,53032,00.html

For Japan Airlines carbon offset program see:

correction: extreme

Posted by: snaketime1 | June 12, 2009 11:53 AM | Report abuse

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