January 1st 2014 and the traditional New Years Day Concert by the esteemed Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra was broadcast to many parts of the world as an international cultural event, but as Norman Lebrecht outlined in his entry on his “Slipped Disc website in December 2012 (http://www.artsjournal.com/slippeddisc/2012/12/vienna-philharmonic-states-its-anti-women-defence.html) “They’re getting ready for the big New Year gig next week and, as always, the world will look on in amazement at the biggest exclusion zone for women outside the Vatican and Mecca.
There may be five or six women in the ranks on New Year’s Day, but that’s no more than tokenism as the orchestra maintains its stubborn antediluvian resistance to human rights and European law.
ORF, the state broadcaster, ran an item today on the orchestra’s inequality. The orchestra’s chairman, Clemens Hellsberg, was asked why they persisted in refusing to admit a fairer representation of women. His response: ‘In art, you can’t impose quotas (“In der Kunst kann es keine Quote geben”)’.
I made a point of trying to count the number of women in the orchestra this year and if we exclude the harpist I counted four, three rank and file violins and a violinist sat next to the orchestra leader.
It surprises me that such an august conductor as Daniel Barenboim, who is Jewish and should fully understand the issue of discrimination, would want to have anything to do with an orchestra that upholds such a discriminatory policy…………but then again in the world of classical music it does tend to be an “old boys club.”
Given that Austria is a member of the EU and signed up to all the anti-discrimination and equality legislation, why doesn’t it do more to ensure the racism, sexism and misogyny displayed by this particular orchestra is tackled? Particularly in view of the fact that the orchestra gets significant state funding each year.