Green Glyndebourne

Another step forward for classical music and the environment. I’ve complained before that classical music organizations seem clueless about anything green (or at least never talk about such things). So — just as I praised the New York Philharmonic for taking an environmental step or two — I’m happy to note that the Glyndebourne Festival is doing something big. By 2010, they’ll have built a wind turbine, to supply much of their energy, and reduce (or so they say) their carbon emissions by 70 percent.

Good for them. It’s really important for classical music institutions to take steps like this, not just for environmental reasons (though they’re the most important), but to help classical music’s image. Many people who love classical music firmly believe that it’s a superior art, and that it has an ethical weight missing from popular culture. Whether this is true or not would be another story, but those who believe it need to understand that classical music needs to live up to this image. If it’s ethically superior, it should act that way, and we’ll all be better off.

I wonder, though, if the truth isn’t more unfortunate. Since classical music depends on outside funding, and because large classical music institutions depend on a lot of outside funding, I can understand that they’d be cautious. Cautious, among other things, about offending major donors. So they might not want to take outspoken stands on current issues, though you’d think that by now the environment was something just about all of us agree on.

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  1. says

    Greg: The Glyndebourne turbine may be a victory for ‘the environment’, but I think that you will find the people who will have to live with it as part of their environment will see things rather differently. See here:

    This controversy — a very old one, involving many more places than Glyndebourne — was noted in the story I linked to. I’ve driven through lovely landscape near the Yorkshire Dales (where my wife and I go every summer), and seen wind turbines. I don’t mind them. At home, we have a house on 18 acres in a lovely spot an hour outside New York City, and I’d happily put a wind turbine on our property, where in fact it’s very windy. Which is to say that views on this differ.

    I liked the bit in the blog you linked about windmills, how many people would think a windmill in a lovely place only added to its beauty. I think we might learn to feel the same thing about wind turbines. I always get a good feeling when I see them — I think that we’re moving toward a better future.

  2. says

    The problem with 230ft wind turbines is that you cannot enjoy them in the privacy of your own home. Your predilection is inevitably shared with everyone else within a wide radius, whether they like it or not.

    Its rather like the Flying Dutchman at full volume on the stereo on a summer evening with all the windows open, but much, much more so.

    You say:

    “… how many people would think a windmill in a lovely place only added to its beauty. I think we might learn to feel the same thing about wind turbines.”

    And if this happens then there will be no part of our habitat which is safe from industrialisation. You live on a vast and sparsely populated continent. I live on a small and crowd island where even the most remote and and unspoiled areas are being contaminated with the artifacts of our technological age.

    But thanks for being tolerant enough to let my original comment and link appear.


    We’ll just have to disagree. I do respect your point of view.

    But that line about the “vast and sparsely populated continent” — !! That’s a bit of a stereotype. Well, more than a bit. You should travel sometime between Boston and Washington, DC (an eight-hour car ride), or along the Florida coast. Or anywhere in the area of Denver, Colorado, or anywhere along the California coast south of Los Angeles. Or, of course, many, many, many other places. The US is being eaten alive by development and urban/suburban sprawl. I mentioned that I spend time in the Yorkshire Dales, and there I feel more isolated and more surrounded by nature than I do anywhere I normally go in the US. Granted, I’m in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, but still — I don’t know many (if any) residential areas in the US that are so protected. By contrast, I live an hour outside New York in a surprisingly rural place (surprisingly for something so close to the city), and development is encroaching everywhere, most recently in a field behind our house. I’d love it if the town of Warwick, NY, were “vast and sparsely populated.”