The Sounds and Music of Open Space
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Blog posting written by Jairo Geronymo, pianist, Nurnberg, Germany
I recently learned that Sao Luis do Maranhao, a large, beautiful city in the northern coast of Brazil, founded by the French, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sao_Luis,_Maranhao) has become a mecca for child prostitution.
Brazil’s image as a paradise of bossa nova, samba and small swimsuits propels the growing international market of sexual tourism to take advantage of Brazil’s extremely poor population. Corrupt authorities silently support the system in order to pocket some dollars and euros. The children remain in misery, robbed of their childhood and dignity
I admire intelligent marketing. The tobacco industry impresses me with their ad campaigns. Hip, comic book advertising indoctrinates teens, while sexy, healthy and smart smoking people emulate the ideals of an adult market. I imagine that the most questionable companies offer the highest salaries to the geniuses of marketing. These marketers hire the top musicians for their commercials. We all need to earn our daily bread—as many loaves as possible.
Old LP covers--now cult items—show images of a bygone era. I love those sultry women with their powerful contralto voices, supposedly victimized in their voluptuous poses, showing that most powerful part of their bodies: their curves. Women in cigarette commercials do not have curves anymore.
Sex-based marketing has also infiltrated classical music. Lately, ‘classical’ CD covers also portray pictures of sultry performers to equate musical performance with the erotic. A sexy violinist in a flimsy dresses holds her Stradivarius against the evening wind. A muscular conductor drinks milk from gallon-sized chalices.
Horowitz’ nose and Rubinstein’s baggy eyes would have no chance in today’s classical music marketing schemes. Gone is the time when Montserrat Caballe opened her mouth onstage, in all her rotund glory, and everybody sighed. I love Montserrat, Eva Marton, Jessye Norman and the many other sturdy women who seduced us with their voices.
So what are all these people selling? What are the real consequences?
Corrupt officials shielding child prostitution traffickers from persecution in Brazil are selling their values to earn more money. Musicians working in tobacco advertisements are selling their integrity to earn more money. Established and aspiring divas are now connecting their curves to their virtuosity to sell more CDs. Nearly all classical CDs now on the market have been touched up with some element of sexuality for sale.
While I was a college student, I was the organist for the First Christ Scientist Church in Sao Paulo, Brazil. It was one of the best-paid church jobs in Sao Paulo. I did not believe in the ideas of that religion. I often I played services for less than ten people. The money helped underwrite my college costs. I was a musical prostitute because I sold my music to an institution and a religious practice I did not believe in. Does it matter that I sold my musical skills in order to learn more music?
At one time or another, I would guess that we have all sold something that we do to some entity or institution that perhaps is not in total alignment with our own values and ideals. These actions edge us all closer us into prostitution. Of course, people should have the right to do whatever they want as long as nobody is hurt. Ethics is, in the end, all about consequences.
Child prostitution damages innocent children for the rest of their lives. Encouraging teenagers to smoke will shorten their lives.
So I urge you to think about the consequences of our daily choices. If you buy a CD because the singer is sexy, that’s OK; there will always be musicophiles who will buy Jessye Norman’s CDs. Nobody is hurt.
However, if your choices hurt other people, physically or emotionally, I hope that your punishment will be much worse than listening to the Spice Girls for the rest of your life.