Santa Monica has really made the news!
Summary: Dennis Prager has been asked to conduct a fundraising concert for the Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra. His beliefs about traditional American values and what makes a great America make #DOTUS and #Bannon look like regular old school-yard bullies by comparison. Prager is not a trained conductor but the argument in the article devolves from that into a greater discussion over his appointment representing the worst insult to minorities, the LGBTQ community and anyone else he does not deem worthy to live in this country...rather the ones that have made this country worse again.
I don't agree with Prager's views about people like myself (Hispanic, minority, female), my LGBTQ friends, my non-Christian friends, or any of the other people he deems 'deplorables'; but like everyone else in this country he is entitled to his beliefs and opinions.
I agree that someone not trained as a conductor should not be leading an orchestra, and though I don't think him being asked to serve was intended by the Music Director (MD) and Board to align Santa Monica Symphony(SMS) with his views, the MD and members of the Board are not stupid.
They know what this man believes, and they know their musicians, they know their audiences, they know their community, and how this specific appointment would rile them up.
How could they not have some idea that asking him would draw this kind of attention to the concert, which is a fundraiser they desperately need to have go well?
It could be argued that they are using this man's popularity and following by individuals who follow and align with his values, to promote the fundraising concert.
Unfortunately, those views he has extolled and widely shared have bolstered political rhetoric and decisions, and are the ardent beliefs of some in this country who want their elected representatives to legislate the way this man in particular believes.
So no matter what, there is no getting away from this appointment not having a political underpinning. He is a big name with a big bully pulpit that he uses to great affect. There is no way that was not going to come up.
He (Prager) is right....liberal is, or at least strives, to be open-minded. So I can see the argument that the music (the arts) should just be left to stand on its own, regardless of the beliefs of the artists. I can also fully appreciate why the artists, the regular audiences and the community-at large would not want this man to lead this concert. Prager said, “I have never used a conducting appearance to make a political point,” Mr. Prager said. “In fact, I was particularly pleased to help the orchestra of one of the most liberal cities in America to make the point that great music should transcend political differences.”
But there simply is no way that his views wouldn't come up and not be a point of contention. He knows that, and so does the MD and Board of SMS.
And that is where my concerns lie....more with the decision the MD and Board made to ask this man to serve in this capacity. Lammell (MD) said, “I anticipated it,” Mr. Lamell said. “I think it’s perfectly reasonable. It’s perfectly fair. No one is ever forced in the symphony. It’s always voluntary. I expected it to happen. All I can say is that, ‘Yes, some people cannot separate their political views from their musical views."
He and the Board certainly must have had some discussions about what the announcement of this man in particular serving as guest conductor would do for the success of the event. How the controversy once announced would draw more people to the event. It's clear from Lammell's responses in the article that they were well aware of the effect the appointment would have on their artists (and likely their audiences and the community).
People love salaciousness and will pay for it; so it could be argued they caved to that notion, in asking him to conduct, so that they could sell tickets. If that is the case, to quote the MAGA in Chief, 'that is just sad'.
The open letter, (link in the article shared below) is intense. Read the article first before tearing through to the letter.
Your thoughts, as always, are welcome and until then...