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Vienna Prompts Less Protest in N.Y.

March 11, 1997|JAN HERMAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The men in the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra outnumbered female protesters over the weekend in three sold-out concerts at New York's Carnegie Hall, where the orchestra concluded its U.S. tour Sunday.

Between two dozen and three dozen demonstrators showed up each of the three nights to protest the orchestra's 155-year, all-male tradition, which was overturned recently with the admission of a female harpist.

The opening program Friday--Beethoven's Fifth and Sixth symphonies, with an encore of the Egmont Overture--made use of about 80 musicians onstage: all men. Daniel Barenboim conducted.

Harpist Anna Lelkes, who made history Feb. 27 when she was voted into the orchestra, appeared in Sunday's concert during one piece, Richard Strauss' "Ein Heldenleben." She had played in the same piece Wednesday during the orchestra's tour stop at the Orange County Performing Arts Center in Costa Mesa.

Protesters who gathered in near-freezing temperatures were herded away from the Carnegie Hall entrance by police, said Monique Buzzarte, a board member of the International Alliance for Women in Music, which mounted the demonstration with the National Organization for Women and several union locals of the American Federation of Musicians.

Buzzarte said that a trombone quartet, which had been organized to serenade arriving concert-goers on the sidewalk outside Carnegie Hall, was prevented from playing by the police.

"The city would not give us a sound permit," Buzzarte said. "The police told us that if we played without a permit, they would have to confiscate our instruments."

When the Vienna Philharmonic appeared last week in Costa Mesa, the only other U.S. stop on its tour, roughly 80 protesters turned out for a peaceful demonstration. It was highlighted by a musical duet, violinist Mitchell Newman, a member of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and flutist Phyllis Newman, his mother.

It wasn't only the demonstration outside Carnegie Hall that drew little notice.

Buzzarte said that concerts scheduled over the weekend at CAMI Hall across the street from Carnegie, which had been designed to celebrate women composers, were sparsely attended.

"But we did give out about 5,000 fliers during the demonstrations and the concerts," she added. "So we think we did some good educating the public about the plight of women in music."

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