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.”