|Victor Melamed's illustration from this New Yorker article about Gergiev|
The second half of the concert was Shostakovich's Symphony No. 4, which the program notes told me Shostakovich was forced by Stalin's government to withdraw (this is a supposition), and thus was not premiered until 25 years later, long after Stalin's death. Its compositional style was controversial and not in line with Russian standards of the time, which made it an interesting choice considering Gergiev's staunch support of the current Russian government. The protesters were outside Carnegie Hall just as they were outside BAM the week before, and on our way out, one of them screamed, "I hope you had a bloody good time!" implying that our attendance at the concert contributed to the deaths of thousands in Ukraine. Unexpectedly, seconds later, I was within earshot of another protester who said to us quietly and amicably, "Have a good night."
At both concerts I felt conflicted, the same way I felt reading Ender's Game on the subway ride there. Every liberally minded person must set aside at least a little trepidation before picking up a book by Orson Scott Card, the outspokenly anti-LGBT author of the Ender Quartet. When I posted on Facebook that I was considering reading Ender's Game, the overwhelming response was to read it despite Card's views, which manage not to make it into the novel in any noticeable way. In fact, the message of the book is largely positive and progressive.
It seems silly, and missing the point, to make decisions about which art to consume based on the political views of the artist, especially when the art is not in furtherance of said views. Yet, on the contrary, to call anti-LGBT sentiment a "political view" is also missing the point. Conservatives minimize the issue when they call LGBT rights political, which for LGBT people are deeply personal. I'm glad the protesters were there in front of the concert hall both nights. I went in anyway, and I don't think their goal was to keep me from doing so. They raised my awareness of the issue and I educated myself further, and I may decide to stay home and listen to a CD (or patronize a pro-LGBT ensemble, like, say, QUO) next time they're in town.