The US musician labor movement has much to learn about the modern art of protesting from their Dutch counterparts where musicians from the Dutch Radio Orchestra staged a flashmob event at The Hague central train station on October 26, 2010. It was a very impressive event and one that has a great deal of potential not only by player associations but any orchestral organization looking for a way to react against funding cuts…
Let’s examine two of the more striking items in this video that successfully contradict classical music stereotypes:
- No f’ing tuxedos! Walking around on a picket line in tails and long dresses only reinforces a stereotypical image of entitlement and elitism.
- They look like they’re having fun. It’s no accident that they look like the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela. Who needs to reinvent the wheel? All you need to do is figure out the flashmob related logistics (note the music attached to the backs of players).
The only thing really missing from the Dutch effort was some signage about who they were and why they were there (it’s even odd that the video didn’t include a title or credit tag). Sure, local laws might have something to do with that but it looks like the players had leaflets attached to their jackets and it is likely they were handing some out, but something a bit more overt would have been helpful.
One big plus of an orchestra related flashmob event is the sheer scope and impact wielded by a full orchestra compared to using recorded pop music or only a handful of live players. In case anyone forgot (or was unaware of to begin with) why full orchestra performances are an attraction in and of themselves, jut take a look at these two US based labor related flashmob protests from 2010 by union members. Sure, they get their point across but when compared to the Dutch protest, they fall so very short.
Finally, here are a pair of videos that offer a behind the scenes view into the Dutch Radio Orchestra flashmob event; an interview flashmob’s conductor along with a video of the flashmob rehearsal.