Soft Power Fiddling Meets Open-Throat Singing: Big Goings-On in New York

Yesterday the Sunday New York Times suddenly became worth its asking price of $6 by carrying a large advertisement laying out the immense variety of China-related musical activites going on in Manhattan this week.  In effect, the PRC is taking over the beating heart of the classical music world, with the exception of the Metropolitan Opera, an institution which has already lionized Placido Domingo as Qin Shihuangdi.  For East Asia’s biggest country, whose cultural ensembles used to be denied entrance to the U.S. on account of their insistence on singing songs about Taiwan’s pending liberation, this is a major success.

It is also a testimony to how far arts groups will go when they smell money.  For Chinese music is not simply a matter of laying some exotic ephemera out every so often for largely white audiences in North American concert halls: today there is a global marketplace for Chinese composers, and the Chinese government and corporations are flush with cash.

But soft!  What right-wing pundit through yonder window breaks?

Cue squawker Lou Dobbs:

“ChiComs turn Juilliard Red;

they have to stop before we outsource again

the very musical DNA of our octatonic pledge

to future generations / this is an assault

on American harmony that not even John Galt

could envision in his self-built ivory tower

but the academics and professoriat have turned tail.

Musicologist philosophers hear coin:

loins are girded for harmonic hegemony,

imperial pretensions fall away like J.B. Lully’s foot

after being stamped by the heavy truncheon of rectification campaigns.

Because that is the toxic loot windblown on our shores

in New Amsterdam: Qingdao beer no longer Anheuser,

the promontory statues of the Christian Tannhäuser

soon replaced by a lithe Tan Dun tanned from junkets

as a sent-down youth?

This is treachery the likes of which has not been seen

since Hoover sold out in paroxysms of premature jack-backwards

appeasement to the 12-tone harmonists Viennese:

– Gesamtkunstwerk means jobs for migrant mural painters –

and now Phil Glass talks mantras, not Boeing

Jon Adams writes Chairman, not glowing reviews of Nixon’s

brow collaborating again with nervous sweat.

Opera composers don futile expressions

at my exposé of pentatonic malaise,

imperial confessions of R. Emmanuel follow,

throat-singing lamas in the halls of the House.

Now the myrmidons puff, blasting imperial semi-quavers

heralding the Chairman,

or so suspicions have been whispered by my Auto-tune Producer.”

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