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Tetsuro Shigematsu

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No Asians In The Vienna Philharmonic? No Problem!

Posted: 03/01/2013 12:59 pm

Dear Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,

I hear that Asians aren't allowed to play in your famed ensemble. I first learned this by listening to Jian Ghomeshi's guest on "Q," William Osborne -- an American composer based in Germany -- who has been advocating for greater diversity in the VPO for years now.

First off, as the unofficial-unelected-self-appointed-spokesman-for-all-Asians-everywhere, allow me to reassure you, as Asians... we get it.

If I bought tickets to see The Harlem Globetrotters, I wouldn't want to see a bunch of red-haired, freckled-faced, white boys. Ain't nobody got time for that! If I go to Hooters, I don't wanna be served by a dude! I mean where would it end? Animals demanding to perform at Cirque du Soleil?!

But let's face it, your PR problems aren't going away. As Osborne pointed out: you were the last orchestra in the world to admit women. And the fact that your history is so intimately intertwined with Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich isn't exactly helping.

It's also becoming increasingly difficult to claim that Asians aren't good enough musically. After all, fully a quarter of the students admitted to Vienna's famed University of Music and Performing Arts come from Japan, Korea and China. And given the shortage of qualified local Aryans, you've actually had to resort to hiring white-only foreigners.

Luckily for you, I have just the solution!

Have Asian musicians play in white-face. Think about it. Your patrons probably can't see so well. So why not have your Korean second violinist simply wear a platinum wig?

I can already feel you squirming. Who in HR is going to have THAT conversation? "Roosevelt Wang, your audition was exceptional, but how do you feel about colored contact lenses?"

Don't worry. I know kids like these. If you had the misfortune to be born to Asian parents who had classical music designs on you as a fetus, you never had a life. You never went to sleepovers. You missed your prom. In fact, you may still be a virgin!

Asian kids who spent 100,000+ hours weeping into their cellos would consider modifying their appearance to be a very small price to pay for a chance to play in the same hall where Mozart once conducted. Plus, lots of Asians are trying to look white anyhow. Kids from Tokyo all have rust colored hair, and epicanthic eyelid surgery is all the rage in Asia.

But what of those eagle-eyed patrons sitting in your first and second rows? What about the close intimacy of chamber music ensembles? No problem. Just increase the realism.

After all, we Asians are nothing if not determined. Even if it means going on YouTube to learn special effects makeup tricks to appear 10 years older, Asians will do whatever it takes to appear more convincingly white, and do our part to maintain the illusion of Germanic cultural supremacy.

Sincerely yours,
Tetsuro

P.S. I hear Yo-Yo Ma has an opening in his schedule. He's so nice, I'm sure he'd be delighted to stay out of the sun for you :)

 

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