Much Ado About Sidereus
What do slavery, denying women the right to vote, and musical borrowing have in common? They all existed in the eighteenth century. Why is that relevant? I’m not sure, but it appears that Register-Guard reporter Bob Keefer thinks it is to show us that musical borrowing is very bad. In his commentary printed today, he asks “where’s the outrage” regarding the fact that Osvaldo Golijov used large portions of a pre-existing work to compose “Sidereus,” a work commissioned by the Eugene Symphony.
His commentary sheds no new light on the issue, and is merely repeating the facts and arguments made (by others) in his earlier articles. But he remains unsatisfied with responses by the Eugene Symphony and other orchestras that commissioned the work because they find no problem with the piece and the borrowing and do not want to engage in a discussion about the issue. How this “silence,” according to Keefer, makes classical music “stuffy” is unclear.
In any event, I think the reticence by these orchestras to discuss the matter may have something to do with the tone of Mr. Keefer’s original articles and the outrage of the critics he channeled in those article (see my earlier blog entries for details). Can we have a constructive dialog about musical borrowing and the nature of the creative process in the twenty first century? I think we can, but perhaps not in the context of this current “controversy.” For now, I think we should continue to be thankful for, and enjoy, the incredible performances that the Eugene Symphony brings to our humble city.