Cultural appropriation is a one way street

Ludwig van Beethoven

If anyone dares do a haka or use a Maori tune or Maori name or wear a tattoo out of place then there is an immediate hue and cry about cultural appropriation, usually followed by grovelling apologies from the ‘offender’.

But it is a wondrous and unifying thing to celebrate diversity by singing the Maori translation of an old white man’s German words set to a tune written by another old white man from the same oppressive colonialist nation.

Whatever! Quote.

The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra is to be part of a unique international project celebrating Beethoven’s 250th birthday next year which will include school and youth choirs performing the composer’s famous Ode to Joy in te reo M?ori.

The NZSO will join acclaimed orchestras in Brazil, Britain, the United States, Australia, Austria and South Africa in performing Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Ode to Joy segment sung in local languages of each country.

The NZSO’s performances of the Ninth Symphony will also incorporate new works by New Zealand artists reflecting the cultures of New Zealand.

The NZSO has worked with leading American conductor Marin Alsop and the institution for the past 12 months to be part of the project, with the New Zealand concerts to be known as Kia Kotahi: He Toirangi ?-Ao Kia Harikoa.

The NZSO will join eight other orchestras on five continents which perform the Ninth Symphony between December 2019 and December 2020.

Maestro Alsop, a strong advocate for young people and diversity in the arts, will conduct every performance of the Ninth Symphony by each orchestra, including those by the NZSO in major centres in late July and August next year.

“Ode to Joy is about standing up and being counted in this world. It’s about believing in our power as human beings,” she said.

“Everyone will be tied together by this experience. And I think that’s the important element?that through this project, we will bring diverse communities together, and communities who don’t normally work together.” […] End quote.

A Newspaper

Here is the original English translation from the German – just to refresh your memories. It is a little sexist, but I am confident that will be neutered.

O friends, no more of these sounds!
Let us sing more cheerful songs,
More songs full of joy!
Joy, bright spark of divinity,
Daughter of Elysium,
Fire-inspired we tread
Within thy sanctuary.
Thy magic power re-unites
All that custom has divided,
All men become brothers,
Under the sway of thy gentle wings.
Whoever has created
An abiding friendship,
Or has won
A true and loving wife,
All who can call at least one soul theirs,
Join our song of praise;
But those who cannot must creep tearfully
Away from our circle.
All creatures drink of joy
At natures breast.
Just and unjust
Alike taste of her gift;
She gave us kisses and the fruit of the vine,
A tried friend to the end.
Even the worm can feel contentment,
And the cherub stands before God!
Gladly, like the heavenly bodies
Which He sent on their courses
Through the splendor of the firmament;
Thus, brothers, you should run your race,
Like a hero going to victory!
You millions, I embrace you.
This kiss is for all the world!
Brothers, above the starry canopy
There must dwell a loving father.
Do you fall in worship, you millions?
World, do you know your creator?
Seek Him in the heavens;
Above the stars must he dwell.