A CRITIC'S OBLIGATION
What makes Plain Dealer classical music critic Donald Rosenberg's situation stand out is that his critiques of the Cleveland Orchestra were usually very fair and accurate ["The Orchestra Pit," May 5, 2010]. He did a good job evaluating the technical and interpretive aspects of the orchestra's performances, and I looked forward to reading his opinions.
When Franz-Welser Möst came along, everything changed. Reviews were consistently negative, even when the orchestra and conductor were great. At times, the thrust seemed to be less about the music and more about personal attacks — a clear departure from the norm.
A music critic's obligation is to the music and nothing else. When expert opinion cannot be rendered objectively, that opinion has no value. There has to be accountability. The Plain Dealer should have dealt with this issue long before the Musical Arts Association had to take a stand.
This whole critic-and-conductor issue addresses the notion of who is qualified to assess the art of another person. The conductor does his job presumably to the best of his ability — and that should be presumed good enough, given that he was offered a contract extension. Then the local critic sees it as his job to continually trash that artistic viewpoint. It would be akin to assessing the works of Picasso when the critic hates Picasso. The bias is clear, and so maybe another critic without so much at stake is the right step.
MAY 4 MOCKERY
The article on the May 4 memorial at Kent State failed to fully inform the reader of the historical details of those events of 40 years ago ["The New Face of Tragedy," April 28, 2010]. The article did not mention that most of the students who were shot were not even participating in the peaceful anti-war protest on campus. They were on their way to class. They were bystanders.
The history of the anti-war movement is glossed over, and the article implies that the events were set off by "drunken students" breaking windows in the downtown area off campus.
Comments like "There are two sides to every story," "a motley group of 30 students," and "aging hippie" are poorly disguised attempts to denigrate one side. The writer's sympathies are obvious.
If Rick Perloff's article is an example of Scene's renewed efforts at journalism, it is a huge disappointment. It would take an analysis of thousands of words to dissect and correct the entire article, let alone truthfully recount the events of that infamous day.
So far, the new Scene adds nothing to the Cleveland scene.
DREAMS OF DONNIE IRIS
Great article on a huge talent in the music industry ["Cruiser: From rock and roll to law school and back again, Mark Avsec is living the dream," February 3, 2010]. I learned a lot. I own everything Donnie Iris and the Cruisers have done, and it ranks up there with the best of the best. Avsec is a genius in my book.
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