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Cue Sheet entry

VAPORWRATH

    Computer freaks sometimes use the term “vaporware” to refer to software that some company like Microsoft announces with much ballyhoo but never gets around to actually releasing. Maybe we should apply the term “vaporwrath” to indignation and denunciation based on complete ignorance of something that has offended in absentia.
    Consider violinist Ilkka Talvi, blogger and former concertmaster of the Seattle Symphony. He was forced out in a highly publicized to-do in which music director Gerard Schwarz claimed that Talvi had been playing badly, and Talvi acknowledged that his playing was substandard, because the orchestra administration was forcing him to use an inferior violin provided by an influential donor. Talvi felt he wasn’t being treated fairly in the press, so he started a blog to tell his side. That was some time ago, and now his blog tends to address follies elsewhere in the world, just about anyplace other than the Seattle Symphony.
    But this week he has been moved to post on the latest controversy at the orchestra:

Recently, colleagues of mine have been accused of terrorism in the workplace, according to local papers. I haven’t read the stories, but have been told about them by many of these people. They claim the accusations are false, and were purposely planted in the media with the help of reporters, who either wanted to stir trouble, help their friends or had other motivations. To an outside observer, the ‘facts’ as they supposedly have been reported, sound rather retarded and created by someone with an elementary or middle school mentality.
    OK, let’s get this straight. Talvi can’t be bothered to pick up a copy of the Seattle Times, or look at it free online, and read the actual story. Relying only on hearsay, he proceeds to denounce journalists for anything ranging from mere sloppiness to hidden agendas.
    Well, you can read the main article by following this link. If you’d prefer not to do that much research, here’s how it begins:
    Vandalism, mail tampering, a razor blade, anonymous threats — it all sounds like something out of a "Sopranos" episode.
    But it appears to be musicians, not sopranos, who have been targeting their Seattle Symphony colleagues with anonymous acts that one player calls "orchestral terrorism."
    There haven't been any injuries and the police are not involved, although the symphony's acting executive director, Mary Ann Champion, said Benaroya Hall security is working on the matter.
    She said she told symphony members at a meeting Friday about the vandalism and threats and said that "this behavior is not tolerated."
    So, first of all, therte’s a quote from the orchestra’s administrative head acknowledging that something is afoot and that internal security is investigating. Later in the story, musicians are quoted by name—not, thankfully, anonymously—about how certain cars have been keyed and razor blades have found their way into the mailboxes of musicians on the “wrong” side of the argument over whether or not to dump Schwarz. Looks to me like reporter Melinda Bagreen did her homework, and has covered both sides.
    But Talvi doesn’t know that because he hasn’t bothered to read the article. So by ranting about something he hasn’t looked into himself, merely relying on the comments of friends in the orchestra with their own ax to grind, he makes himself look like a petulant fool.
    Get this straight: You have no right to denounce something if you have no first-hand experience with it. If you think some horrible book should be removed from the school library, read the book before you call the superintendant. If you think some movie will offend your religious sensibilities, at least give the movie itself a chance to disgust you rather than rely on rumor. If you think the press is biased, look at its actual reports, then offer some examples and facts to support your position and set the record straight.
    If you are ignorant, your opinion is worthless.

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About Cue Sheet

James Reel's cranky consideration of the fine arts and public radio in Tucson and beyond.

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Classical Music