Carnegie Hall Concert Goes On, After Strike Canceled Performance

A strike by stagehands forced the cancellation, but the union temporarily suspended its strike on Thursday, allowing the concert hall to open its doors for now. A union leader told Reuters he was optimistic the two sides could reach a permanent deal by Friday. The dispute hangs on whether the stagehands – mostly prop-makers, carpenters and electricians – should have a role in a new educational wing that the Carnegie Hall Corp plans to open above the hall next year. The corporation wants to hire cheaper labor at the education wing. Negotiations with the union took an unprecedented turn on Wednesday when Local 1 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees decided to go on strike for the first time in the history of Carnegie Hall. However, when James Claffey, president of Local 1, emerged from negotiations on Thursday afternoon, he announced the union had agreed to pull down the picket line for the day, citing progress in the talks. “This is a goodwill gesture towards Carnegie Hall,” said Claffey, whose local has negotiated some of the most lucrative pay in the industry. He later said further progress had been made, and that even though picketing would continue, he hoped to reach a deal by Friday. Carnegie Hall’s five full-time stagehands make an average of $400,000 per year including benefits, The New York Times reported, citing the organization’s tax returns. Claffey said there were many more stagehands represented by the union who work only sporadically. “This dispute is not about those employees,” Claffey said. “This is about everyone else. These are middle class employees.” The strike forced Carnegie Hall to cancel a performance by the Philadelphia Orchestra with violinist Joshua Bell. The concert was part of Carnegie Hall’s opening-night gala, the organization’s biggest fundraising event of the year. “We are disappointed that, despite the fact that the stagehands have one of the most lucrative contracts in the industry, they are now seeking to expand their jurisdiction beyond the concert hall and into the new education wing in ways that would compromise Carnegie Hall’s education mission,” said Clive Gillinson, the organization’s executive and artistic director.

Russian Imam Calls Elton John ‘The Devil’s Work,’ Urges Concert Boycott

Branding the British rock singer as “the devil’s work in the shape of a pederast” in remarks published on the website of Kazans Thousandth Anniversary of Islam Mosque, the imam warned that God could rain destruction on cities as revenge for supporting what he dubbed sexual delinquency. Sodomy is what the world-famous homosexual Elton John, who recently wed a man in public, is promoting, the imam said in undated remarks made public in the Russian media Thursday. The imam said followers of Islam should stay away from the music star’s Kazan concert, scheduled for Dec. 8, a day after his show at Moscow’s Crocus City Hall venue. John, 66, has long been a poster boy for gay rights. He is in a British civil partnership with his partner,David Furnish, and the men have a three-year-old son, Zachary, born in California in 2010 via a surrogate mother He has said he will defend gay rights during his Russian tour — a stance that puts him at risk of getting a sentence of 15 days in prison and a 5,000 roubles ($150) fine under newly-adopted laws here preventing the promotion of homosexuality to children. Last week, another Russian religious group, the Christian group Union of Orthodox Brotherhoods, called for a ban on John’s concerts. “The statement by this gay guy — Elton John — about his support for gays and other perverts during the upcoming concert in Moscow is an insult to all Russian citizens,” the group’s coordinator said. Another conservative group, the Ural Parents Committee, has called on Russian president Vladimir Putin to keep John from performing the Kazan concert. Madonna, Rammstein and Lady Gaga are among international acts that have made statements supporting gay rights at recent Russian gigs and escaped prosecution. John, knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1998, has sold more than 300 million records worldwide during his 40-year career.