Mozart Helps Snap Saudi Taboos
Mixed-gender concert signals opening to outside world
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted May 3, 2008 9:56 PM CDT
The German-based Artis Piano Quartet perform in front of a mixed gender audience at a government-run cultural center in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Friday, May 2, 2008.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Mozart hasn't challenged cultural taboos for more than 200 years, but last night he caused quite a stir in Saudi Arabia. A German-based quartet gave the nation its first public classical concert where men were allowed to hear Mozart and sit next to, gasp, women. "The concert is a sign that things are changing rapidly here," a German ambassador told the AP.

Other portents of change are afoot in Saudi: Folk musicians recently played at a book festival, and Western music was allowed at a February economic forum. Last month, King Abdullah even called for a dialogue between Christians and Jews. How did Amadeus add to the mix? "I was amazed at the sounds coming from the musical instruments," said an 11-year-old rock fan at the concert. "I've never been to a live concert before."