Millenium String Quartet

17 July – Level 5 Function Room, RFH

Comrades, despite heroic efforts, this night our revolutionary struggle suffered. We took the fight to the enemy but treachery was our down fall. So we may learn to win the war, let me recount, in all truth, the Battle of The 5th Floor Function Room. The rain was decisive. A silent disco, moved indoors, forcing us from the Clore into the 5th Floor Function Room. Our numbers far exceeded the fire limit of this smaller room and many campaneros were locked out. We were all ages and all colours, all eagerly anticipating revolutionary instruction. The hoity-toity, their gowns and robes, sat amongst us unmolested.

According to distributed propoganda the Millennium String Quartet is made up of musicians from the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra, emerging from Venezuela’s revolutionary El Sistema which has trained a quarter of a million under-privileged youngsters. They have created a social and musical revolution that reverberates around the world.

Our four Venezuelan heroes played in tunics, deep-blue maoist style, a panorama of Parliament behind. First half they played Quartet No 12 in F Major, Opus 96 nicknamed the American by Anton Dvorak. As distributed pamphlets say they play with a dynamism and professionalism of such a compelling nature. The full tones of their enthusiastic revolutionary fervour fired our senses and filled our hearts with hope. We, the young, the old, the black, the white, we lapped it up. We lapped it up so very much we applauded between movements. The hoity-toity held their ground and their hands by their sides.

The treachery that was our downfall came in the mid way question and answers. More complicated questions were translated into Spanish but the handsome violinist always responded the same answer in poor English “music is for everybody!”. Oh how we laughed and applauded his fine sentiment. After all, we are everybody, aren’t we? Then one question caught him off guard and revealed a hint of possibly unrevoltionary colour: “Do you hope to join the world’s musical elite or will you always remain a revolutionary?” Our violinist paused. He paused long enough to regard the row of journalists and industry professionals. He paused long enough to think himself someone from poverty who actually quite fancied some good life. He paused a pause that spoke louder than his words that followed, “Music is for everybody”. Oh treachery!

Che Guevara

Che Guevara

Emboldened, the enemy struck. A bourgeoisie, her voice plum with privilege, took the mic “I think it’s wonderful you attract so many different types to classical music but I am disturbed by the clapping between movements. Does this disturb you?” Our violinist did not respond “shut your mouth you filthy elitist parasite before I smite your soft flesh with my revolutionary bow”. Nor did he respond “you do not offer to share your wealth so keep your opinions in your locked pocket you beneficiary of the tyranny of snobbery, and now I will smite your soft flesh with my revolutionary bow”. Instead he paused, smiled and said, “yes, music is for everybody”. Oh treachery! The filthy dog traitor! Abandoned and confused, we were routed. In the second half, Quartet No1 Opus 20 by Alberto Ginastera, not one clap was heard between movements. Not one clap. We were intimidated and tamed by a snob! We had swallowed her lesson in the etiquette! And now I must end my dispatch which sadly reports we lost the Battle of The 5th Floor Function Room – for now, the South Bank remains run by the rich for the rich and subsidised by the taxes of the poor.

Hasta la victoria siempre! Ever onward to victory! Or maybe world concert tours.


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