Category Archives: Rant

Symphony Concert Cancelled: Musicians unable to play due to Drooling over Sexy Condructress

File under:  Things that have Never Happened

I have a habit, when an idea for a blog entry occurs to me, to send an e-mail to myself with the idea.  For months now, I’ve had an e-mail sitting in my in box which says simply, “conductor gender gap.”

I’ve always been interested in finding ways that two of my favorite topics, classical music and feminism, intersect, and with a dearth of woman on the podiums of the world’s orchestras, this was an obvious source of blogging inspiration.  But I could never quite figure out how to approach it.

Enter Vasily Petrenko

The young and hot (in more than one sense of the word) music director of the Oslo Philharmonic has enraged level-headed classical music fans after some pretty backward remarks he made in an interview with a Norwegian newspaper.  Norman Lebrecht’s blog* has the following translation: 

I believe that when women have families it is difficult to be as dedicated as is required in this business. Another side is that orchestra musicians respond better to men at the podium. They have less sexual energy and can better focus on the music.  A sweet girl on the podium makes them think about other things, says Petrenko.

When one is angry it is advisable to count to ten.  1. . . 2 . . .3 . . . 4 . . . oh fuck it.

Let’s break this down.

I believe that when women have families it is difficult to be as dedicated as is required in this business.

Any woman who has ever tried to advance in any professional field has probably encountered this sentiment at some point.  “Women dont work good cuz women make babies.”  This is Feminism 101.  In the 21st century, society still believes that when a man and a woman start a family, it must be the woman who sacrifices her professional career to care for children.  This is the “Having it All” debate.  There’s not much point in discussing this first part of Petrenko’s statement because feminists have been discussing it for fifty years.  So let’s move on.

Orchestra musicians respond better to men at the podium. They have less sexual energy and can better focus on the music.  A sweet girl on the podium makes them think about other things, says Petrenko.

First of all, does the phrase “sweet girl” give anyone else the willies?  I’m interested to know if it sounds just as creepy in the original Norwegian.  (I’m looking at you, Aksel!)

Now, what this remark says to me is that Petrenko is incapable of seeing a woman as anything more than a sex object.  It makes me wonder how he is able to concentrate on conducting when there might be a “sweet girl” caressing her cello in the front row of his orchestra?

Petrenko has since apologized, claming that his comments were misconstrued, and he has the utmost respect for the likes of Marin Alsop, but if you ask me, his attitude points to a glaring problem in classical music. 

Think for a moment.  How many famous conductors can you name off the top of your head in ten seconds:  James Levine, Herbert von Karajan, Leonard Bernstein, Daniel Barenboim, Esa Pekka-Salonen.  Oh look!  They’re all men.

How many famous women conductors can you name?  Marin Alsop.  Wikipedia lists only 65 women in its catalogue of women conductors

This season, Jane Glover will make her conducting debut with the Metropolitan Opera, leading the orchestra in (the most misogynistic opera ever written) Mozart’s The Magic Flute.  She will be only the third woman ever to lead the Met’s orchestra.  That’s three women since 1880.  Hooray for feminism!

It would seem that this is a glass ceiling that has only begun to crack, and the likes of Vasily Petrenko are working to keep it in tact.

*A blogger who finds sexism abhorrent, unless, of course, it’s used to smear a musician he doesn’t like.


Breaking News: It’s a Bad Time to be Rich

Watch out guys!  This is a Rant with a capital R.  I’m angry and I’m using curse words.  So, If you prefer for me to talk about opera and singing and nice things, then maybe you should skip this post, mmmkay?

So the only thing anyone in the media is talking about lately is the “Fiscal Cliff,” and how to avoid it. On NPR, they were talking this morning about one of the president’s strategies, which is to increase tax rates on the wealthiest 2%, specifically they discussed raising the capital gains tax, and the dividend tax.

Then, this commentator  Bill Smith of CBIZ MHM, comes on and says something unbelievably obnoxious.

“It’s a bad time to be rich.”

Is it?  I’m sorry, I didn’t realize.  How bad is it?  Like, are you worried about how you’re going to afford Christmas presents for your children if this tax hike goes through?  Maybe you’ll have to take on a second job to make ends meet?  Maybe you’ll be forced to sell one of your cars, and you and your spouse will have to share a single vehicle?

Yeah, I didn’t think so.  You and your accounting firm’s clients will pay a little more on your capital gains, and your standard of living won’t change at all.  Why don’t you go cry about it in your fucking mansion over some caviar and Dom Perignon?

Honestly, has there ever been a time in the entire history of civilization that you could call “a bad time to be rich”?  Actually, I can think of one:  The fucking French Revolution.  And do you know why the French Revolution was a bad time to be rich?  Because all the poor people, who were basically starving to death while the noblemen partied at Versailles, got so pissed off about being poor that they decided that the only solution was to guillotine some motherfuckers.  That was a bad time to be rich.

Fortunately, nowadays most of us understand that the guillotine is not an appropriate solution to most problems, so instead we go camp out in urban parks.

No, it is not a “bad time to be rich,” you entitled prick!  It’s a bad time to be struggling to afford your heating oil, because it’s fucking cold out.  It’s a bad time to have to choose between purchasing one or the other of your medically necessary but exorbitantly priced prescription medications.  It’s a bad time to find out you’re pregnant and faced with the medical costs of pregnancy and childbirth, not to mention 18 years of feeding, clothing, entertaining, and educating a child; but there’s nothing you can do about it because you live in Mississippi.

Instead of wasting your breath on the radio complaining about what a bad time it is to be rich, why don’t you go volunteer at the local food bank and get some fucking perspective, you slimy, Republican asshat.