Ambition to serve the greater good is admirable. In the Euro-capital, Brussels, countless events occur day-in, day-out, yet few brand themselves as a “European day of – “. Nevertheless, according to the event website of the ‘European Day of Humanity’, the inauguration was “Supported by the President of the European Parliament, Mr. Martin Schulz” and “Supported by the Vice-President of the European Commission, Mrs. Kristalina Georgieva“.
On June 23, the (very musical) European day of Humanity brought together orchestras, bands, choirs, and traditional dance troupes from different countries, and representatives of different communities in what was undoubtedly a very pleasant programme.
The culmination (coincidentally on the eve of Greece’s most important political meetings in Brussels) was to be a joint performance of the Athens Conservatory Orchestra, from Greece, and the Blasorchester Königsbrunn, from Germany. They were scheduled to play, what else, ‘Ode to Joy’, the official anthem of the European Union in a performance that would bridge cultures, political differences, and historical pains.
After a fantastic performance by the Greek orchestra and traditional dances by the Lyceum Club of Greek Women of Brussels, the German orchestra took the stage to play five songs. The Greek orchestra took their positions, waiting for the joint finale.
The controversy started after the third song: Kein schöner Land (Hymnus), composed by Kurt Gäble.
After the end of the song, the Greek maestro appeared from back stage, and told his orchestra members to leave the stage. The audience was left in disbelief, and the Germans, professional in every way, continued to the end.
When the time came for the finale, the German conductor turned to the organiser of the event, David Chmelik, who gave him the go-ahead nod to continue.
The event ended in a very nice ambiance, but the ‘Greek question’ remained.
After the room cleared of most of the audience, the Greek and German maestros met on stage to discuss what had happened in a calm and professional manner.
The Greek maestro explained very politely: “There are two types of music in this world, those written by artists to invoke love and bring people together, and those written for the military and marches” … “What you played was a march, and we could not participate, for historical reasons and because we are here today to come together, not further apart.”
The German maestro was both polite and understanding, and explained that he was not aware that this was the case, and that he in fact, had not chosen the songs himself. The two men were respectful and understanding at the same time.
It all went down the drain, when the organiser, David Chmelik, came between them.
Looking at the Greek Maestro, Chmelik yelled loudly:
“You are an egoist” … “You have ruined everything” … “I don’t want you here, GO BACK TO GREECE” …
“GO BACK TO GREECE”
What could have escalated into physical confrontation by the many Greek bystanders who found the final remarks both racist and disgraceful, did not as the onlookers were more amazed and disgusted than angry.
Was the Greek maestro right or wrong for asking his orchestra members to leave? It is beyond the point. While holding a European day of Humanity certainly sends the right message, the organiser certainly did not.
Below the two performances that stirred the controversy:
The European Union Anthem: Ode to Joy, from the closing of the European day of Humanity, performed by Blasorchester KönigsbrunnVideo via newsville.be
Posted by New Europe on Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Videos via Newsville.be