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Our View: Orchestra slam the usual much ado about nothing

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Our politicians seize any opportunity to show their bad faith. Nothing is trivial enough to dissuade them from displaying this trait. Last week deputies of all the parties expressed outrage because they were informed by one of their colleagues that members of the Cyprus Symphony Orchestra (CySO), including the artistic director and orchestra leader, would be performing in an international music festival in the north.

As usual, they made a big fuss about nothing. Not even the well-worn argument brought up in these instances – it would lead to an upgrading of the pseudo-state and downgrading of the Republic – could be used with a straight face. Given that the upgrade-downgrade tune was unavailable, deputies found moral reasons to justify their indignation. “They are members of the symphony orchestra that is funded and controlled by the state, their salaries come from the taxpayer and they will participate in an event organised by the ‘presidency’ and a number of ‘ministries’ in the north,” said Edek deputy Costis Efstathiou, who described their action as “unacceptable”.

The more patriotic Green leader Giorgos Perdikis demanded the sacking of the musicians while Diko’s Zacharias Koulias expressed the hope the “Republic will take the right measures,” without specifying what these should be. The education ministry permanent secretary Egli Pantelaki saw a disciplinary offence as the musicians had not asked the permission of the CySO board to participate in the festival and were due to appear before it to answer for their actions this week.

Primarily though, this was a moral issue. It was unacceptable for members of the orchestra that were paid by the taxpayer to participate in music festivals in the north. Was this because they would be playing music for Turkish settlers? It is doubtful Anatolian farmers are great fans of classical music. Efstathiou objected to the venue of the concert – Bellapais Abbey – “where civilians, prisoners of war, were slaughtered in 1974.” So if the concert was performed in the Karpas where there had been no fighting in 1974, would he have no objection to the CySO musicians participating?

They would find some other reason to declare the participation “unacceptable,” because they are playing to the local audience. It does not cross their minds that they make the worst possible impression to outsiders by making such a big issue out of something politically harmless. What do we have to gain by advertising the fact that we do not allow members of the CySO to play music in the north as individuals? All we have achieved, once again, is to display our bad faith?

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