Zubin Mehta's Kahsmir Concert Strikes Sour Note

Protests Greet Maestro in Indian-Controlled Region

Sour Note: Maestro Zubin Mehta leads orchestra in Indian-controlled Kashmir. The music was sweet but the concert set off strikes and violent protests by separatists.
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Sour Note: Maestro Zubin Mehta leads orchestra in Indian-controlled Kashmir. The music was sweet but the concert set off strikes and violent protests by separatists.

By Reuters

Published September 08, 2013.
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“We were misled by the German embassy. We will raise this issue with the German government that art can’t be exploited by anyone, be it governments or by embassies or any political groups,” he told Reuters in an interview.

“The musicians, all the 80, waived the fees for Kashmiri people and not for an elite event. We didn’t waive the fees for an embassy concert. Be sure this will be an issue in Germany.”

Addressing the charge of elitism, Mehta said “next time” he would play in a stadium, but stressed that the audience on Saturday had included a cross-section of Kashmiri society.

The German embassy did not respond to Reuters’ request for comment, but Steiner told India’s NDTV television channel that security considerations had been a factor in deciding how large an event to hold.

“The first priority was that we had to guarantee to the orchestra, to the invitees, to Zubin Mehta, to everyone security. Kashmir is as it is. We could not at this juncture do it in a Woodstock form. The situation was not right for that,” he said.

Indian-born Mehta, 77, who has conducted the Israel, Berlin and Vienna philharmonic orchestras among others during his long career, said despite the controversy he still believed the concert had had a positive impact on Kashmir.

“We are not politicians. We cannot change boundaries but we can start a process of healing. Yesterday there was the beginning of some process of healing because Hindus and Muslims were sitting together in complete harmony,” he told NDTV.


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