Do China’s Communist leaders have a collectivist tin ear?

The Daily Telegraph reported recently that the Chinese government was cracking down on performances of religious music.

Because of the ban, Rome’s Sinfonica Orchestra was forced to abandon its plan to play Mozart’s Requiem at a concert this month in the Sichuan earthquake zone. The concert was scheduled to help victims of the massive earthquake that occurred there last May.

The Italian orchestra said it would play shorter, non-religious works instead.

The Telegraph was unable to obtain comment from China’s culture ministry about the reasons for the restrictions on performances of religious music.

But one government official told the newspaper that a long-standing, informal ban has been in place against Western religious music.

Britain’s Academy of Ancient Music found a way to get around the problem when it was invited to sing The Messiah at this month’s Beijing International Music Festival.

It designated its performance “by invitation only” to sidestep the ban on public performances of religious music.

“Ironically,” the Telegraph noted, “among the invitees are members of the Politburo and other senior government leaders.”

— Tom McFeely