x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Classical music meets political activism

Music and activism have in the past often gone hand in hand. But with rock's rebels increasingly a geriatric, if not endangered, species, a new musical uprising has emerged from the unlikeliest of sources.

In his career-defining song The times they are a-changing, Bob Dylan sang that "there's a battle outside ragin". John Lennon advocated "power to the people". And The Rolling Stones declared "the time is right for rising in the street".

Music and activism have in the past often gone hand in hand. But with rock's rebels increasingly a geriatric, if not endangered, species, a new musical uprising has emerged from the unlikeliest of sources.

As The National reports today, classical musicians in some of Europe's major cultural capitals have taken to the streets to protest against drastic cuts in the arts across the continent. Governments in France, Italy, Holland and Britain have slashed funding, grants and teaching budgets for the performing arts, putting the very existence of many institutions and colleges at risk.

In protest, flash mobs and guerrilla orchestras have sprung up across the continent, playing in public squares and stations from London to The Hague to highlight their plight. In Milan, an actual riot broke out in front of the world famous La Scala opera house.

Lovers of the arts all over the world will be hoping their concerns are listened to. The battle lines have been drawn. But who would have thought those on the vanguard would be armed with harps, cellos and violins?