THE LA ROCHELLE TIMES

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Classical music concert turns violent

Four dead, fifteen wounded in brawl after intra-symphony tensions erupt

Anne Allisiss
La Lune de la presse internationale


PLAIN BLUFF HEIGHTS PRAIRIE, OKLAHOMA

What transpired at the Alfred P. Murrow Orchestra Hall yesterday was a reminder of what concert violence can do to normally good-willed people. In a surprise eruption of mayhem at an otherwise peaceful classical music concert, the Plain Bluff Heights Prairie wind and string ensemble of approximately 70 players turned into a horrid yet fascinating spectacle of musician-on-musician violence. After Orchestra Hall security intervened to calm the brawl four musicians were dead, and fifteen were severly injured. Medical professionals and surgeons were called in to dislodge various instrument fragments from some of the victims.

The classical music brawl is part of a growing trend of across-the-board concert violence, which showed a 27% increase in 2006. Could there be a correlation between performing music and inflicting horrible human suffering? Most scientists have thus far downplayed any such link. However, after listening to certain types of music, often of the metalhead or acid rock variety, extended human misery can sometimes be observed. In this instance, classical music somehow provided the trigger catalyst to set in motion a series of violent actions.

Some have speculated that audience members, upset with the humdrum score and monotonous, mid-to-late-sixteenth-century harmonies of the wind ensemble, provoked the musicians through subtle taunts and awkwardly-timed applause. If this were the case, it would be more difficult to tie such actions directly to the music, instead of audience-performer interaction. Others have faulted tensions within the orchestra due to personal relationships among its members.

This latest incident simply exacerbates the need for closer scrutiny and security at high-risk classical music events. Future events should ideally include metal detectors, bomb-sniffing dogs and a minimum of two police helicopter gunships. As part of a new campaign to strengthen the Department of Fatherland Security, Representative Amanda Tori Sentenz (R-FL) has suggested legislation that would mandate such precautions at future classical concerts. The bill, HR 2012, will be up for House vote in the coming weeks.

EYEWITNESS STATEMENT
By cellist Scott Free

Shit got outta hand today down at the classical music hall. Man, those trombonists can throw some mean fists, let me tell you. But I never expected the violins AND the upright bass to rise up against the flutes so quickly. I mean, I know there's been a lot of tension lately, with the orchestra conductor banging that hot flutist and all. And then the fact that a bunch of the violinists have all this obvious sexual tension with the flutists. But that's no reason for outright violence.

I just tried my best to avoid the melee. Cause when that type of shit goes down, you'd best just drop your instrument, crouch behind your music stand, and hope for the best. After all, there's no stopping an angry wind ensemble brawl.

I'm not quite sure what set it off. I think the upright bassist intentionally went off key, and then the violinists must have taken that as a cue to forte, when they should really have crescendoed. I bet that pissed the flutes off something fierce, and with all that shit going on about the conductor, I bet it just blew up and ignited the whole orchestra in one rampaging orgy of bloodshed.

Before it was finished I saw instruments used in ways most people have never even imagined. No one was safe. I just hope that sometime, maybe in the distant future, a wind ensemble will be able to restore dignity to that tainted concert hall.

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