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New York Times Music Editor on a Mission

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The classical music editor of The New York Times takes up his longtime role once again as chief media apologist for the Vienna Philharmonic. In a promotional article about the orchestra, James Oestreich plants a big wet kiss on Clemens Hellsberg, its chairman and archivist, lauding him as "a force for change." He dismisses the orchestra's continuing discrimination against women as a "female issue" not worth mentioning except in passing, let alone its exclusion of people of color. Oestreich also writes, "Probably no one knows better [than Hellsberg] what lies in the orchestra's past, especially during the Nazi years, for which it may need to make amends." May?

Today's promo follows a full-page ad in the print edition of the Times on Sunday, which announced the orchestra's concert tonight at Carnegie Hall, featuring conductor Zubin Mehta and Lang Lang at the piano, to benefit the National Academy Foundation. The ad thanked "corporate partners" for their largesse, listing such financial titans as that wonderful philanthropist Sanford I. Weill (of JP Morgan Chase & Co., formerly CEO and chairman of Citigroup), and announced a Lifetime Achievement Award for Peter G. Peterson (of the Blackstone Group, formerly Nixon's Secretary of Commerce). Ain't it all so cozy ...

Just so you know: There are only three women in the VPo twelve years after it said it would begin admitting them, William Osborne reports. Meanwhile, the orchestra has hired about 50 men. And the VPo is still the only orchestra in the world without a single member who is visibly non-Caucasian, even though about a third or more of the students at its feeder school, Vienna's University of Music, are Asian -- and have been for about 25 years. Why has the board of Carnegie Hall always looked the other way when it comes to the orchestra's sexism and racism? What does that say about the classical music world in New York City?