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Calls for Nigel Kennedy’s arrest over election remarks

A claim in Saturday’s Guardian interview that he got a friend to vote with his wife’s polling card has prompted defeated Hampstead candidates in the close 2010 election to demand police action against the violinist Nigel Kennedy.

His wife says he was probably kidding. She may well be right. No-one should take Nigel’s politics too seriously.

He is due to play the Last Night of the Proms this Saturday.

nigel kennedy bbc proms

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  1. The more I read about Kennedy, the more obvious it is that he needs to grow up.

    • Theodore McGuiver says:

      Too late for that, I fear…I felt that thirty-five years ago after hearing his middle-class vowels traded for a sort of ‘mockney’. He’d been interviewed as a student at the Purcell School and was as plummy as it was possible to be. Mere months later he sounded like he was trying to be a diamond geezer. Awfully embarassing. He’s still playing the same card at fifty-six…

    • Michael Schaffer says:

      Jeffrey E. Salzberg says:
      September 2, 2013 at 11:40 am

      “The more I read about Kennedy, the more obvious it is that he needs to grow up.”

      Maybe so. But if that is the case, why do you take him so seriously? Why does one word – one single word – from someone you do not consider a grown up trigger the massive responses we got from you about that?

      • “But if that is the case, why do you take him so seriously?”

        Because there is a huge difference between, “Celebrities’ opinions ought not to be taken seriously,” and “Celebrities’ opinions are not taken seriously.”

        • Michael Schaffer says:

          But you can not control or dictate whose opinions should be taken seriously, and whose shouldn’t. Would you rather want to live in a society where such control is exerted?

          • Of course Jeffrey can’t control or dictate, and no one said he could.

            But he has every right to opine, just like you and I do.

  2. maxine kwok-adams says:

    Can they arrest him before he’s due to play please

  3. Abigail Clifford says:

    Why Maxine? are you worried he might say something untoward?

  4. Get a sense of humor folks. I’ve been kicked out of some pretty nice establishments with Nigel :P He’s got a way with words… He’s a damn good entertainer and one of the few cross-over artists from the classical genre.

    • Brian, are you suggesting flat-out that Nigel did not in fact give his wife’s polling card to a friend to vote and that he made the story up for whatever reason?

  5. Warren from NYC says:

    I attended a NYP subscription performance featuring Nigel playing the Sibelius around 20 years ago. I sadly admit that it was the worst, most poorly played and unpleasant musical experience I ever had to endure in my 30+ years of attending concerts! He pranced around the stage with a mohawk like hair style, with non-matching tie dyed socks. This would have been fine if his playing sounded like Oistrakh, or at the least, was at least in tune, and tidy, even if foursquare. The playing and his general cavalier behavior on stage made me believe that he considers New Yorkers fools, if not an outright contempt for NYC, and unaware of music. It was a stunt! Based upon that miserable evening, he should have never been invited back to the New York Philharmonic, let alone to perform in NYC. A refund should have been offered to the audience, perhaps with a free concert played by a promising teenager, who can really play the violin and would show respect for the music. As Nigel is a “famous” musician and “highly regarded”, his fame is the work of agents and a populace lacking musical knowledge. His highly regarded recordings, such as his Elgar Concerto recordings, are at the bottom of the heap. His statements today are his way of making himself relevant while his so called “music making” past or present has no relevancy.

  6. Ronald Schneider says:

    If only Kennedy were a better violinist…..

  7. He should concentrate on the politics of Israel-Palestine. He’s totally adrift there too but at least if he persists on that subject, someone might eventually sort him out for good.

    • Neil van der Linden says:

      Ooff what hate campaigns one gets even if one might suggest something critical about apartheid, which may hint at Israel indeed, in a call to ban intolerance, inequality and other evils. Hm, it seems rather that a certain kind of pro-Israel lobby which happens to bear music apparently can’t distinguish between music and politics. Guys, this give a very bad impression of you.

      • It gives a much worse impression of people who continue to use the word “apartheid” in reference to Israel, after having been presented, several times, with the, y’know, facts.

        • Neil van der Linden says:

          So that means if a musician gives a personal opinion on a country, in an oblique reference, amidst a plea for peace and understanding, Mr Lebrecht should invoke all means to defame that artists from then on, and an army of readers will follow throwing mud? What does that remind of? At least Murdoch methods? Or worse? I think this is becoming a filthy campaign. Not very becoming.

          • Gonout Backson says:

            Your logical “leaps of faith” and non-sequiturs are mind boggling, vertiginous. Jonathan Edwards was nothing.

  8. Neil van der Linden says:

    Why cant his politics taken seriously? He did a serious and lively project in the Proms before, with Polish and Palestinian young musicians? And ended with a quite mild call for peace and an end to intolerance and inequality and certain political practices. What is wrong with that? Just because he hinted at some political practices he associates with Israel? What is not serious about that? Just because apparently you dont like that, Norman, you now start to take part in the Kennedy blackish campaign? About this issue: the guy started as a punker. British politics have been in a dismal state since years. So a little anarchy in the UK should be welcome. The world would be a better place if more people would decide not to ‘grow up’ because the grown-ups leave the world with Blair and Cameron.

  9. ‘No-one should take Nigel’s politics too seriously.’

    So including Palestinians in his band was just a political joke then.

  10. Abigail Clifford says:

    It does seem that most people who see the Palestinian areas are deeply affected by what meets their eyes. Nearly all of them make the comparison with Apartheid South Africa. Kennedy is clearly a sensitive individual who has clearly been troubled by what he has seen there. At least he has seen the reality, unlike many people who love to comment on what is happening without ever having been to the area.

    • Then they should stop allowing terrorists to kill israelis in their name. The Palestinians’ fate is in their own hands.

      • Enough. Stick to topic.

      • It is not. If Palestinians do nothing and stop protesting and resistance, their “home” country will be Jordan. And you know it.
        Sorry Mr. Lebrecht, I promise that’s the last thing I will say to this.

        • Neil van der Linden says:

          Then as my last contribution here is a very insightful and moving article from the New York Review of Books

          The American Jewish Cocoon
          SEPTEMBER 26, 2013

          Speak to American Jews long enough about Israel and you begin to notice something. The conversation may begin with Israel, but it rarely ends there. It usually ends with “them.”

          Express concern about Israeli subsidies for West Bank settlements and you’ll be told that the settlements don’t matter because “they” won’t accept Israel within any borders. Cite the recent warning by former Shin Bet head Yuval Diskin that “over the past 10–15 years Israel has become more and more racist” and you’ll be told that whatever Israel’s imperfections, it is “they” who teach their children to hate and kill. Mention that former prime minister Ehud Olmert has called Mahmoud Abbas a partner for peace and you’ll be told that what “they” say in Arabic is different from what they say in English.

          This spring I watched the documentary The Gatekeepers—in which six former heads of Shin Bet sharply criticize Israeli policy in the West Bank—with a mostly Jewish audience in New York. Afterward a man acknowledged that it was an interesting film. Then he asked why “they” don’t criticize their side like Israelis do.

          I used to try, clumsily, to answer the assertions about Palestinians that so often consume the American Jewish conversation about Israel. But increasingly I give a terser reply: “Ask them.” That usually ends the conversation because in mainstream American Jewish circles, asking Palestinians to respond to the endless assertions that American Jews make about them is extremely rare. For the most part, Palestinians do not speak in American synagogues or write in the Jewish press. The organization Birthright, which since 1999 has taken almost 350,000 young Diaspora Jews—mostly Americans—to visit Israel, does not venture to Palestinian towns and cities in the West Bank. Of the more than two hundred advertised speakers at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s (AIPAC) 2013 Policy Conference, two were Palestinians. By American Jewish standards, that’s high. The American Jewish Committee’s Global Forum earlier this year, which advertised sixty-four speakers, did not include a single Palestinian.

          Ask American Jewish organizations why they so rarely invite Palestinian speakers and you’ll likely be told that they have nothing against Palestinians per se. They just can’t give a platform to Israel’s enemies. In 2010, Hillel, the organization that oversees Jewish life on America’s college campuses, issued guidelines urging local chapters not to host speakers who “deny the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish and democratic state with secure and recognized borders,” “delegitimize, demonize, or apply a double standard to Israel,” or “support boycott of, divestment from, or sanctions against the State of Israel.”


  11. 18mebrumaire says:

    The headline introduction to the Guardian interview with NK reads: “From an early age Nigel Kennedy [has] refused to play by the rules”.

    Actually, the professonial “rules” are very simple and perhaps NK needs to be reminded of them.

    1. Endeavour always to play the music to your utmost ability.
    2. Don’t “dis” your audience.
    3. Don’t “dis” your colleagues.

  12. the more I read about kennedy, and I’ve seen him also, the more obvious is those who kicks him around should be…

  13. Doesn’t it appear that Mr. Kennedy might be suffering from some sort of personality disorder? If so, then he is in a lot of pain.

  14. Joseph Gluck says:

    As an orchestra musician, I performed with kennedy ,Mohawk,clown shoes, etc. Once he started the Elgar concerto, he played beautifully.
    How ironic, in this day and age, when orchestras are encouraged to “get with it”—-more Pops,
    audience texting sections (Boy, does that show respect for the music), “anything to sell
    tickets” philosophy—-we complain about a great artist who dresses funny.
    By the way, you should listen to his recording of The Lark Ascending.

  15. Oh leave Nigel alone – the mockney is a bit annoying, but his heart is in the right place, and what he says as a teaser about conductors is quite true, in particular when you take the disparity in remuneration between a conductor and an orchestral musician into account. All power to Nigel rather than the likes of Petrenko who is spouting mysoginist BS I would have thought impossible in the 21st century.

    • I’ll say one (just one) thing for Petrenko. It’s pretty clear that he sees that he put his foot in it, and I think it’s likely that he’ll start to understand why what he said was objectionable – and maybe even, ultimately, change his thinking because of it.

  16. Parallels with the pianist James Rhodes in terms of reaching out beyond the confines of the ‘normal’ classical musical audience.
    This more casual approach would never have ignited a passion for classical music in my case, but i’m delighted it persuades other people.
    I find Rhodes less cringe-worthy when he speaks, but rougher musically than Kennedy, who played the Elgar Violin Concerto beautifully a few years ago at the Proms.

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