Monday, January 08, 2007

Bigotry touches Orkney composer

I love the beauty and the magic of Orkney. I love the music of Peter Maxwell Davies who is resident on the Isle of Sanday and founded the St. Magnus Festival in 1977. His music encapsulates the spirit of the islands. One of my favourite pieces is "The Beltane Fire" a wonderfully evocative description of the struggle to celebrate Beltane in the face of opposition from the Kirk.

It seems that Peter Maxwell Davies is now receiving some opposition from the Kirk to his personal life which saddens me deeply. The following is taken from today's Independent newspaper:

Homophobic' Orkney under attack for ban on civil partnership
By Andrew Johnson
Published: 08 January 2007

Gay rights campaigners have called for a tourist boycott of Orkney after one of the world's leading composers was banned from forming a civil partnership with his lover on the remote island of Sanday.

Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, who is master of the Queen's Music, and Colin Parkinson, 52, planned to hold their ceremony next month on Sanday, where they have lived for the past nine years.

Sir Peter, 72, had even composed a piece of music for the event, which was to be attended by stars from the classical and pop music worlds.

But their plans were put on hold after officials at Orkney Islands Council unexpectedly said the registrar, a friend of the couple, was not authorised to preside over the civil partnership. Instead, they would have to travel to Kirkwall on Orkney mainland for the ceremony.

Matters became further confused yesterday when it was reported that Orkney officials had also cited fears of a media circus and "unsuitable music" on Sanday as reasons to move the ceremony.

A furious Sir Peter condemned the ban as "downright discrimination" and pointed the finger at "religious fundamentalists".

He said: "Everybody can get married where they live except me, it seems. Ever since the law on civil partnerships was brought in, we thought that finally there was an opportunity to get married and to have a little celebration.

"Fundamental religious people, who delve into the Bible to justify their hatreds, still hold great sway. That kind of malignant influence is wrong. Most of the people here are fine and open, those who disapprove are in a minority."

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