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New video: The Nigel Kennedy Palestine Prom

The BBC television version of the Vivaldi Four Seasons has been posted on Youtube, shorn of Nigel’s political diatribe. Judge it on musical merits.
nigel kennedy bbc proms

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  1. Just fabulous altogether. The music, mixed with Palestinian folk music and jaz extemporisation and chant, said more than any jibe about Israel. Enjoy, and well done both Nigel and the BBC. They’d never have had that at a Salzburg Festival. I saw it on BBC last Friday when it was deferred relay due to normal programming, not because of politics, in case any of you were thinking such things :)

  2. Henry Sapirstein says:

    Music is always political and musicians are entitled to an opinion. If that prompts listeners to read more about the situation or like myself travel to Israel and Palestine, then so be it. Travel to the region, talk to the people and you will realise that there are very few black and white answers.

    • Gonout Backson says:

      Music is always political? I would be very happy to learn about the political content of, say, Für Elise…

  3. Hmmm, quite a few ringers in there, half the orchestra looks like it comes from the West Bank, of the river Cam.

    • Hello Jimbo,
      No, no ringers. The principal players are from the Orchestra of Life, as stated in the concert’s billing & program. The rest of the musicians are indeed Palestinian. Not sure what you expect Palestinians to “look like”, but I teach in the (Palestinian) West Bank and have the privilege of knowing and working with these young musicians.
      Just to set the record straight.

      • Neil van der Linden says:

        Tom, aren’t the Palestinians al wearing a black and white keffieh? So then in this case that is what Palestinians looked like, that night. ;-)

    • Steve Atkinson says:

      No ringers.

      It was a combination of the Palastinian Edward Said Music Conservatory and Nigel’s own Orechestra, “Orchestra of Life”, members of whome are I beleive all or mostly all from Poland,

      It’s mentioned on the BBC website:

  4. Elizabeth Morley says:

    Thank you, Mr Lebrecht, for putting this wonderful concert up on YouTube. And thank you to Nigel Kennedy, the Proms management and the BBC for bringing us these talented Palestinian youngsters, who clearly had the time of their lives. Let’s hope we will see more Palestinian culture at the Proms next year. How about the Trio Joubran?

  5. David Boxwell says:

    Referring to “apartheid” in encouraging impromptu remarks hardly constitutes a “diatribe.”

    Still, why couldn’t Kennedy remain totally apolitical, keep quiet, and just perform like Toscanini and Bernstein always did (to name just two)?

  6. Neil van der Linden says:

    The concert was quite impressive, with in the TV registration a quite a lot of focus on the solo star, but that is what many people paid tickets for to the concert, and still attention for the other musicians.
    No, this is not an authentic performance, a tremendous amount of liberties are taken, using the original piece for a multi-stylistic experience. Not everything goes perfect musically, but the atmosphere is vibrant and cheerful. We can always go home later and play our I Musici or Fabio Biondi, or Kennedy’s first recording. The concert was an adaptation into something new, that succeeded in making the music cheerful and enjoyable to seasoned and new audiences alike. Not totally new, it is the kind of thing Uri Caine for instance does as well, but in a different way, or what Gidon Kremer did two years ago in Salzburg when he invited young Egyptian virtuoso Mustafa Said to play the solopart of a Vivaldi mandolin concerto on the oud (oriental lute), but that was different as well, or what Sarband with Fadia Tomb Al Hage dit with Bach’s passion music in The Arabic Passion. As a whole this evening yet was an innovative concept.
    I must say that the sheer inclusion of the young musicians from Palestine and the way the documentary gives them ample space in the scenes from the rehearsals are clear messages by themselves. So I did not get to see Kennedy’s statement, but in the documentary as I see it now almost any statement would have been superfluous, a pleonasm. The proof of this is that even in the Youtube comments people are complaining why no Israeli musicians were invited if Palestinian kids participated. Hasbara at its most ludicrous. I never heard about the rule that a Palestinian or other Arab artist should be invited when an Israeli artist comes over.
    But no, I did not miss a personal statement from Kennedy in this TV registration. The message about aspirations of peace and young people wanting to express themselves in their own way, under circumstances that promoted freedom, equality and justice, was clear enough.

  7. Francesca LaPlante Sosnowsky says:

    Bravo Nigel!
    He is doing a wonderful job of bringing talent out in the light! We hope to see and hear more….a record maybe???

  8. I thought music transcends politics but then if your a lefty even an ex-punk rocker has views worth sharing. Except most of us are not interested in Kennedy’s simplistic views of the Middle East. Did you notice the Israeli activists waving flags and shouting abuse at the players like the Palestinian activists do to Israeli artists when they perform in the UK? And what surprises is Kennedy going to spring on us on the last night of the proms?

  9. Daniel Mullin says:

    I’ve never doubted Mr. Kennedy’s phenomenal talent as a musician and violinist as I’ve had the privilege of accompanying him several times in various orchestras. I’ve equally never questioned his intentions or linked them to some sort of career-statement, nor his integrity for having the charisma and courage of his conviction to share them. Whether one agrees with them, to my mind is somewhat less important. The profession needs characters. Live and let live.

  10. Richard Lightbown says:

    Thank you Norman for posting this. Personally I think the word “diatribe” is a bit strong for a description of Nigel Kennedy’s comment. Mr Kennedy clearly thinks that the situation directly relates to the music. When a musician of this calibre holds such an opinion with such conviction I think we should be cautious about separating the music from its context.

    For the sake of completeness then, I would like to add the brief comment which has caused the controversy:

    “Ladies and gentlemen; it’s a bit facile to say it but, um, we all know from experience in this night of music tonight that, um, given equality and getting rid of apartheid gives [sic] beautiful chance for amazing things to happen.”

    • Neil van der Linden says:

      is dat all? “Ladies and gentlemen; it’s a bit facile to say it but, um, we all know from experience in this night of music tonight that, um, given equality and getting rid of apartheid gives [sic] beautiful chance for amazing things to happen.”
      Is that enough to mobilise whole legions of hasbara fighters?
      And indeed hardly a diatribe.

      • Well of all ‘fighters’ on this thread you have been highly mobilised with anti-Israeli diatribes using the Kennedy incident as your excuse – as if you need one.

        • Neil van der Linden says:

          Originally the issue was whether the BBC should not have cut out Kennedy’s sentence, but immediately after that the thread was taken up by those who disagreed with possible criticism on Israel.

    • I was at that late-night Prom and heard most of Kennedy’s statement. However, the end of it was drowned out by a massive shout of “b*ll*ocks” from one of the loggia boxes behind me. I imagine the BBC would have had to cut it for that reason alone, if not for political reasons.

      (It was a truly fabulous concert by the way.)

  11. Mark Rosenfeld says:

    Beautiful music from Mr Kennedy and the Palistinean players. Not necessary for audience to hear an opinion which is personal and should not have been a part of this concert. Audience did not pay for an opinion.

  12. “Judge it on musical merits”
    A note of sarcasm from Norman Lebrecht ?

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