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Golly gee!!! What has Carlo been up to lately to deserve his name so taken in vain on this forum....??? :huh:

 

 

I am also quite happy to admit to being a great fan of CC and an owner of most of the CDs and even LPs he has produced over the years. At least he appears to have grasped a fundamental truth that seems to have eluded a number of other concert organists, ie that if you are in the entertainment industry - and music, even art music is intended to amuse and divert and not as a substitute for religious observance - then you need to be entertaining. And he is. He is also the ONLY organist whose concerts I have attended (and I have heard most of the famous names active over the last 40 years) who has come even close to filling the venue where he is playing. (The only player who might have achieved the same,at least on his home turf, was Reg Dixon at the Tower Ballroom but I never heard him play, and have never even heard the Tower organ live.)That fact at least suggests that audiences who are required to vote with their money rather than simply their mouths (or fingers on this forum) are not unhappy with his approach.

 

Years ago I read in a journal to which I then subscribed a review of a recital CC had given in London. I cannot recall precise details at this distance in time but the writer (of whom I had never heard then, and whose name is still unknown to me) expressed the opinion that CC's performance of a Bach work (I think the Toccata, Adagio and Fugue (BWV564)) demonstrated that it was "beyond the intellectual grasp of the player" (or words to the same effect). Freedom of speech means that the writer is entitled to express his opinion, but it confers the same privilege on me. I thought he was a pompous little prat and I never renewed my subscription to the Journal since I know my place and it is not in the company of such elevated beings.

 

BAC

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He is also the ONLY organist whose concerts I have attended (and I have heard most of the famous names active over the last 40 years) who has come even close to filling the venue where he is playing.
It does seem so. But I wonder how much of his ability to pack out a venue is due to his playing and how much to his personality and marketing. We had a thread a while back on showmanship that suggests that he is not without rivals on the playing front. Don't misunderstand: I'm not at all against marketing. Quite the opposite. A few more larger-than-life "personalities" might do the organ world a power of good.
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Carlo Curley has probably done more for the organ over the last thirty or so years than anyone else that I can think of. His concerts are well attended because he does a good show and knows generally what people want to hear. I remember going to one of his Albert Hall spectaculars in the late 70s and he virtually filled the place.... perhaps he should do another.

 

Peter

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It does seem so. But I wonder how much of his ability to pack out a venue is due to his playing and how much to his personality and marketing. We had a thread a while back on showmanship that suggests that he is not without rivals on the playing front. Don't misunderstand: I'm not at all against marketing. Quite the opposite. A few more larger-than-life "personalities" might do the organ world a power of good.

 

It's all a question of what you want. Erudite antiseptic education of your audience or bums on seats, which can still be done with a bit of education thrown in.

 

I was in Glasgow with Carlo on one occasion and the night before he had given a recital in Edinburgh. The next morning crit in one of the paperers was scathing, a personal itch being scratched, unkind and gave an impression that was enough to put anyone off ever coming to organ recitals.

 

Carlo read it and was visibly upset. He turned to me and simply said, "They forgot to mention the church was full and they had to bring in extra chairs".

 

Is it not a British trait that when something is successful we have to try to destroy it?

 

FF

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I am also quite happy to admit to being a great fan of CC and an owner of most of the CDs and even LPs he has produced over the years. At least he appears to have grasped a fundamental truth that seems to have eluded a number of other concert organists, ie that if you are in the entertainment industry - and music, even art music is intended to amuse and divert and not as a substitute for religious observance - then you need to be entertaining. And he is. He is also the ONLY organist whose concerts I have attended (and I have heard most of the famous names active over the last 40 years) who has come even close to filling the venue where he is playing. (The only player who might have achieved the same,at least on his home turf, was Reg Dixon at the Tower Ballroom but I never heard him play, and have never even heard the Tower organ live.)That fact at least suggests that audiences who are required to vote with their money rather than simply their mouths (or fingers on this forum) are not unhappy with his approach.

 

Years ago I read in a journal to which I then subscribed  a review of a recital CC had given in London. I cannot recall precise details at this distance in time but the writer (of whom I had never heard then, and whose name is still unknown to me) expressed the opinion that CC's performance of a Bach work (I think the Toccata, Adagio and Fugue (BWV564)) demonstrated that it was "beyond the intellectual grasp of the player" (or words to the same effect). Freedom of speech means that the writer is entitled to express his opinion, but it confers the same privilege on me. I thought he was a pompous little prat and I never renewed my subscription to the Journal since I know my place and it is not in the company of such elevated beings.

 

BAC

 

 

======================

 

 

Brian raises many interesting points here.

 

As an individual, I have a huge sense of fun, but I can be deadly serious also, and rather intense from time to time.

 

These are all aspects of a WHOLE personality, and not just one particular aspect which I may care to wear as a persona.

 

Music, in all its' guises, is quite capable of expressing all that and more....Mozart being the perfect example of a composer who could musically delight, entertain, make us giggle and, without doubt, make us weep.

 

The idea that music must have "depth" is actually a rather protestant standpoint, and one suspects that the Brazilians might have a different view. To them, fun and laughter are every bit as deep as religious sobriety.

 

If people really KNEW their organ-history, they would know that there is a parallel

world of organ-entertainment, which has certainly been around since about 1700 as a specifically identifiable entity. I think the earliest cafe organs, using barrel machanisms, come from this period.....possibly earlier still in Austria.

 

By the time Mozart died, automatic player-organs were becoming very popular, to which his great "organ works" bear witness. Haydn did similar things, but in a very light and attractive style; as did Beethoven.

 

By about 1900, the great mobile Fair Organs were churning out popular tunes, and in the Dance Halls just after the start of the last century, people danced to the splendid Mortier organs.

 

Then came the great organ transcriptions in the Town Halls, which had begun long before, in places like St.George's Hall, Liverpool, and which would include almost anything; not least, popular melodies such as "Moonlight and Roses" and excerpts from Gilbert & Sullivan.

 

The use of the "theatre" organ as both substitute wartime dance-band and interval entertainment, reached almost legendary status during the 1930's, with organists paid as much as pop-stars today.

 

It's a great tradition in its' own rights....make no mistake...and sometimes every bit as virtuosic as that found in the classical world.

 

So why on earth have we allowed the organ to become an "intellectual" instrument only?

 

The ONLY answer must be the snobishness of those who set themselves upon pedastles, and claim the high moral-ground of music-making.

 

Now this is not to say that one cannot enjoy the historically informed Bach recital on an authentic instrument.....the very reason I go to Holland as often as time and money permit.

 

But why the hell should I apologise for enjoying a Mortier Organ, or a Wurlitzer in full flight, or Carlo Curley entertaining ordinary folk?

 

If the truth be known, it was Reginald Dixon who first got me interested in the organ, and it is to my shame that I now rather despise his bouncy Blackpool style, as I have moved "up market".

 

Not everyone was drawn to the organ in church.....I certainly wasn't, because I do not come from a "church" family at all.

 

I personally think it despicable, that anyone should choose to criticise Carlo Curley on the basis that he dare to entertain. I think it is even more despicable that someone as brilliant as Hector Olvera should feel compelled to abandon the theatre-organ "because it was damaging his credibility as a classical organist" in America, where he lives.

 

I'm delighted to report, that as a rounded human being, I can be just as thrilled by old recordings of Frank Sinatra as I can be by those of Pavarotti. At least they both had style!

 

God forbid that we must be seen to be part of a musically "politically correct" clique of "art-organists".....I'd rather eat glass!

 

MM

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======================

Brian raises many interesting points here.

 

As an individual, I have a huge sense of fun, but I can be deadly serious also, and rather intense from time to time.

 

These are all aspects of a WHOLE personality, and not just one particular aspect which I may care to wear as a persona.

 

Music, in all its' guises, is quite capable of expressing all that and more....Mozart being the perfect example of a composer who could musically delight, entertain, make us giggle and, without doubt, make us weep.

 

The idea that music must have "depth" is actually a rather protestant standpoint, and one suspects that the Brazilians might have a different view. To them, fun and laughter are every bit as deep as religious sobriety.

 

If people really KNEW their organ-history, they would know that there is a parallel

world of organ-entertainment, which has certainly been around since about 1700 as a specifically identifiable entity. I think the earliest cafe organs, using barrel machanisms, come from this period.....possibly earlier still in Austria.

 

By the time Mozart died, automatic player-organs were becoming very popular, to which his great "organ works" bear witness.  Haydn did similar things, but in a very light and attractive style; as did Beethoven.

 

By about 1900, the great mobile Fair Organs were churning out popular tunes, and in the Dance Halls just after the start of the last century, people danced to the splendid Mortier organs.

 

Then came the great organ transcriptions in the Town Halls, which had begun long before, in places like St.George's Hall, Liverpool, and which would include almost anything; not least, popular melodies such as "Moonlight and Roses" and excerpts from Gilbert & Sullivan.

 

The use of the "theatre" organ as both substitute wartime dance-band and interval entertainment, reached almost legendary status during the 1930's, with organists paid as much as pop-stars today.

 

It's a great tradition in its' own rights....make no mistake...and sometimes every bit as virtuosic as that found in the classical world.

 

So why on earth have we allowed the organ to become an "intellectual" instrument only?

 

The ONLY answer must be the snobishness of those who set themselves upon pedastles, and claim the high moral-ground of music-making.

 

Now this is not to say that one cannot enjoy the historically informed Bach recital on an authentic instrument.....the very reason I go to Holland as often as time and money permit.

 

But why the hell should I apologise for enjoying a Mortier Organ, or a Wurlitzer in full flight, or Carlo Curley entertaining ordinary folk?

 

If the truth be known, it was Reginald Dixon who first got me interested in the organ, and it is to my shame that I now rather despise his bouncy Blackpool style, as I have moved "up market".

 

Not everyone was drawn to the organ in church.....I certainly wasn't, because I do not come from a "church" family at all.

 

I personally think it despicable, that anyone should choose to criticise Carlo Curley on the basis that he dare to entertain. I think it is even more despicable that someone as brilliant as Hector Olvera should feel compelled to abandon the theatre-organ "because it was damaging his credibility as a classical organist" in America, where he lives.

 

I'm delighted to report, that as a rounded human being, I can be just as thrilled by old recordings of Frank Sinatra as I can be by those of Pavarotti. At least they both had style!

 

God forbid that we must be seen to be part of a musically "politically correct" clique of "art-organists".....I'd rather eat glass!

 

MM

 

Amen to that

 

Peter

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And what if someone really does not like Sinatra & Co?

Would you call someone who actually prefer the music from

a guy who spent some years in the Gloucester area an ill man?

 

Pierre

 

 

====================

 

Personal preferences are exactly that....personal.

 

a) There is no accounting for taste.

 

B) One man's meat is another man's poison

 

c) Each to his own

 

* select your cliche

 

Now where is my CD of the "Scissors Sisters?"

 

:rolleyes:

 

MM

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As an individual, I have a huge sense of fun, but I can be deadly serious also, and rather intense from time to time.

Bravo MM, couldn't have put it better myself. I first heard Carlo Curley when he came to the Colston Hall in Bristol and his playing just blew me away. Wow! His book is well worth reading, as he really has led an interesting life. I am a big fan and cannot understand those who are snobbish about Carlo. But, and it is a but, I am no fan of his digital touring organ and his Battle of the Organs, which leave me cold.

 

Ah well, nobody's perfect. Talking of which B) I wonder whether MM was being deadly serious or just rather intense in his extensive posting? :rolleyes:

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Aha... so the hostility to dear ol' CC is not universal even on this distinguished forum.

 

Was it not dear Virgil who observed (of New York organ recitals) that as the fugue subjects came in one by one, so the audience members left two by two.....

 

Methinks that as a musical instrument, the organ needs every friend it can get, and CC is a veritable apostle bringing GOOD NEWS that (like a good funeral) it needn't be dire and deadly.

 

Only thing is, we don't seem to see much of Olrac these days here in the frozen wastelands of the north.... :rolleyes:

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Guest Roffensis
"Is it not a British trait that when something is successful we have to try to destroy it?"

(Quote)

 

!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

And even that could be understated...

Pierre

 

Quite so, anything that smacks of being English, whether organ or choral, is generally today disregarded by its own people. Apparently our own culture is not worthy of retaining and a lot of damage continues being done, all in the name of progress, or getting "with it" and imitating foreign builders and tones. Sad to refelct, but I find often the case. One can only lament losses, and applaude those few around who do still have a ounce of common sense and value.

R

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Organs maybe. But don't we Brits all think our choirs are the best in the world?  :rolleyes:

 

=======================

 

I don't think that they're the best in the world by any means.

 

I think we possibly have some of the best CHURCH choirs, but my words, there are superb choirs in Holland, Germany, the Czech Republic, America, Austria and possibly most other countries.

 

As for absolutely stunning choirs, the Latvian choral tradition is of a very high standard indeed, and the Latvian State Chorus (I think that's what it's called) has to be among the world's best. I believe they may well have an English choir-director?

 

Nothing but nothing compares with the basses in Russian choirs, and this has been exploited by a number of great composers.

 

Then there is Tuvan throat-singing.....an interesting use of the voice, to say the least.

 

That said, I don't think anything quite compares with the sung daily-office found in the Anglican tradition, which is really one of the great glories of England, even if few turn up to hear it. The fact that it is a daily routine, makes it quite unique, but not necessarily top-notch musically, when there are so many conflicting pressures.

 

Thinly veiled nationalism is always rather tedious, I think.

 

MM

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Quite so, anything that smacks of being English, whether organ or choral, is generally today disregarded by its own people. Apparently our own culture is not worthy of retaining and a lot of damage continues being done, all in the name of progress, or getting "with it" and imitating foreign builders and tones. Sad to refelct, but I find often the case. One can only lament losses, and applaude those few around who do still have a ounce of common sense and value.

R

 

 

=======================

 

I haven't studied English culture in fine detail, and yet I am a part of it.....this is the English way, I suspect.

 

As a nation, we have never had rigid lines of demarcation, and much of the strength of English culture has been a certain willingness to explore other cultures.

 

Holland, with all its' wonderful organs, tends to be a little monochrome, in that most instruments are either baroque (or neo-baroque) or sort of romantic-baroque. Only a few instruments could be considered otherwise, such as those by Adema.

 

In England, one never quite knows what to expect when visiting a church organ without prior knowledge of the instrument.

 

Even the language is multi-cultural in the extreme, and few languages develop and expand as rapidly as our own.

 

Compare this to America, where people are usually very unaware of other countries and traditions, unless they are academics in some way.

 

Look at the huge, recent influx of immigrant workers to England, which may have brought problems to the labour market, but which is interesting to observe. I am quite impressed by the way that many, many English people naturally show an interest in and easily make friends with Eastern Europeans; as if we are hungry to learn new things and share new ideas.

 

The end result is a society which assimilates rapidly, and somehow fudges and muddles through in a kind of organised chaos.

 

I suspect that the idea of "England" is a cosy myth, which somehow doesn't quite square with the reality.

 

MM

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Hmmm....I am not sure how you would classify Hector Olivera but as a serious organist?

 

http://www.hectorolivera.com/

 

I think I have a complaint about CC it is that he does not seem to have developed as a musician. He is playing the same repertoire today as he did 25 years ago. He may entertain his audiences but does he challenge them? I suppose the upside of this is that if you do go and see him you know that you are not going to have to sit though the longeurs of the Whitlock Sonata !!

 

I must say that his gushing manner is not to my taste. If you went around the part of Scotland, that I come from, talking to people like that you would soon end up lying in a corner with blood gushing from your head.

 

I did see him, in the 80s at the McEwan Hall, Edinburgh and he made the comment that 'Television sucks out your brains'. About that he was absolutely right'

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To follow the Carlo Curley cul-de-sac, he's clearly a fine player etc.

 

However, my own feeling is that the organ's serious problem is NOT a lack of 'popular' appeal.

 

Rather, it's a perceived lack of profound/high-quality/worthwhile (insert adjectives as appropriate) repertoire. Audiences turn out in large numbers to hear difficult and complex art-music: Mahler, Bruckner, Nielsen and the like attract large and varied audiences. Historically-informed performances/festivals of early music are also extremely well-attended.

 

The organ's problem is in being taken seriously by intelligent, musically-cultivated people. And this, I fear, is due to experiences of noisy third-rate music poorly played. The effect of this is serious: musical decision-makers, in the media and in concert-planning continue to ignore the instrument.

 

Having said all that, I love the 'town hall tradition', the Edwardian organ etc. But I think it has quite enough champions already.

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To follow the Carlo Curley cul-de-sac, he's clearly a fine player etc.

 

However, my own feeling is that the organ's serious problem is NOT a lack of 'popular' appeal.

 

Rather, it's a perceived lack of profound/high-quality/worthwhile (insert adjectives as appropriate) repertoire. Audiences turn out in large numbers to hear difficult and complex art-music: Mahler, Bruckner, Nielsen and the like attract large and varied audiences. Historically-informed performances/festivals of early music are also extremely well-attended.

 

The organ's problem is in being taken seriously by intelligent, musically-cultivated people. And this, I fear, is due to experiences of noisy third-rate music poorly played. The effect of this is serious: musical decision-makers, in the media and in concert-planning continue to ignore the instrument.

 

Having said all that, I love the 'town hall tradition', the Edwardian organ etc. But I think it has quite enough champions already.

Absolutely.

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Hmmm....I am not sure how you would classify Hector Olivera but as a serious organist?

 

http://www.hectorolivera.com/

 

 

 

=======================

 

 

Mmmmmm........

 

Is this because he plays digital instruments?

 

Maybe because he is a first-rank theatre organist?

 

Possibly because he doesn't come to the UK much?

 

I think the following, from his website, says it all:-

 

At 12, he was the youngest student at the University of Buenos Aires, before becoming a scholarship student at the Juilliard School of Music in New York. Mr. Olivera’s career embraces countless performances as soloist with symphony orchestras around the world, at renowned concert halls such as Carnegie Hall, as well as virtuoso concert performances in places such as the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris and the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California.

 

Mr. Olivera continues to be a featured artist at international pipe organ festivals, and national and regional conventions for both the American Guild of Organists and the Royal Canadian College of Organists.

 

-----------------------------------

 

Being brutally honest, I cannot think of a single UK organist who can do half of what Hector Olivera can do, simply because he is an absolutely all-embracing musician with apparently limitless boundaries.

 

If he has managed to carve a solo concert career using a variety of organs and styles, good for him.

 

Anyone who has the talent and energy to have his own touring-organ, his own road-show,a healthy number of concert bookings around the world, recording contracts and a salary as a demonstrator, deserves to be where he is.

 

As a consequence, he has a beautiful home, a Chevrolet Corvette and a huge model railway to delight his many friends and family.

 

Make no mistake, he is a VERY capable musician rather than a one-man circus-act.

 

MM

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I have actually heard HO at Tony Manning's residence at Farnborough. His speciality was playing 'Flight of the Bumble Bee' on the pedals !!

 

I agree very capable but serious? Apart from a disc of Franck is recordings seem to be aimed at sales on cruises.

 

What I found of greater interest was the photos of HO at the Moeller at Calvary Church, Charlotte NC. Another US Giant !! What with that and Letourneau at St John the Divine, Houston, UK organs do seem a bit on the small side !!

 

I think that we need to stop expending time discussing the merits of Messr Curley and Olivera and get back to discussing serious organists, such as Stephen and Paul, who play serious music and not transcriptions of the Blue Danube and Beethoven 5.

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To follow the Carlo Curley cul-de-sac, he's clearly a fine player etc.

 

However, my own feeling is that the organ's serious problem is NOT a lack of 'popular' appeal.

 

Rather, it's a perceived lack of profound/high-quality/worthwhile (insert adjectives as appropriate) repertoire. Audiences turn out in large numbers to hear difficult and complex art-music: Mahler, Bruckner, Nielsen and the like attract large and varied audiences. Historically-informed performances/festivals of early music are also extremely well-attended.

 

The organ's problem is in being taken seriously by intelligent, musically-cultivated people. And this, I fear, is due to experiences of noisy third-rate music poorly played. The effect of this is serious: musical decision-makers, in the media and in concert-planning continue to ignore the instrument.

 

Having said all that, I love the 'town hall tradition', the Edwardian organ etc. But I think it has quite enough champions already.

 

===================

 

If I were a programme planner or a media critic, and I was trapped on an island where there was only a Edwardian British organ, I may feel deprived and a little limited in choice.

 

That would not prevent me from knowing "world music" and the historic tradition of organ-building from one side of the globe to the other.

 

Let me put it another way.......

 

If I were responsible for a major radio station, I would be in the position whereby I could EMPLOY people to perform, from virtually anywhere in the world, using exactly the right instrument for the music.

 

I would then be sacked for mismanagement of resources!

 

I'm afraid that anyone who doesn't toe to line of chasing ratings and musical popularity, would not survive long in broadcasting, for the simple reason that we now live in an age where accountants and statisticians dominate everything, and the reasons for this are twofold. Firstly, there are commercial considerations for those broadcasters who need to rely on advertising revenue; so in the first and last analysis, one "Vivaldi Four Seasons" is worth ten "Byrd Anthems", and a "Bach 48" is worth five "Scarlatti Sonatas".

 

This is what happens when art is controlled by people who know the price of everything, and the value of nothing.

 

In the public broadcasting domain, they have an even worse problem.

 

This is called the "I want a peerage or a gong" committee attitude, where a group of carefully selected jobsworths are employed to keep politicians happy, on the basis that "they give people what they want" and thus justify the continuing cost of the TV licence.

 

If people only knew how ruthless the management of comercial TV and Radio is, and how grossly wasteful and ill-managed the BBC is, they would be horrified.

 

Thus, we live at a time when the most jaded and untalented "celebrities" claw the eyes out of each other in trying to get the £5 million contract; all supported by a media interest which rides on the back of popular opinion and the cult of celebrity.

 

Need we say more, than to consider the contrasting styles of Sir Hew Weldon, Sir David Attenborough and Greg Dyke?

 

In other words, we are living in an age of dumbing-down, popularism and anti-intelllectualism. We no longer educate people to think for themselves, but "train" people to conform to a certain status quo of mediocraty.

 

Compare this to Holland, where people actually go to listen to early-music, organ concerts and may be active as singers in choral groups, or play music with others.

 

I'm sure Holland isn't perfect society, but if one thing impresses me about the place, it is the fact that people think for themselves, they are discerning in their tastes and highly knowledgeable. Go to an organ-concert, and people arrive prepared to listen seriously, perhaps criticise or discuss the performance and to exchange often passionate views about this or that. It is a completely different world, just a few miles beyond out own shores.

 

Perhaps it is not insignificant, that the Netherlands still have a decent education system, run by liberal thinkers, and free from political interference and the pure commercialism of "ratings experts". In fact, Holland is not unlike the UK I was brought up in, and if I have one major regret, it is the fact that I can no longer take England seriously, in spite of a certain "resistance movement" and the bright-spots of individual endeavour and meaningful standards.

 

Perhaps it is even more sinister, for there are two clearly definable traits which emerge in societies which are fragmented and decaying. One of those is to encourage "populist conformity", and the other is the paranoia of the "surveillance society"....both of which lead either to the police-state or political absolutism.

 

Political correctness, it seems, must be seen to embrace the arts.

 

Thank heavens there are people prepared to buck the trend and expose the cynical disregard for individuality for what it is; the death of free expression.

 

MM

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I have one major regret, it is the fact that I can no longer take England seriously, in spite of a certain "resistance movement" and the bright-spots of individual endeavour and meaningful standards.

 

Perhaps it is even more sinister, for there are two clearly definable traits which emerge in societies which are fragmented and decaying. One of those is to encourage "populist conformity", and the other is the paranoia of the "surveillance society"....both of which lead either to the police-state or political absolutism.

 

Political correctness, it seems, must be seen to embrace the arts.

I pretty much agree with this. My son (a pianist) and his wife (a singer) have gone to live in Germany because there's precious little opportunity for them here.

 

Paul

 

PS - what's the subject again? :unsure:

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