Sunday, September 27, 2009

Give give give & ...take?

If classical music needs to appeal to a younger generation in order to survive, what are we, the composers, conductors and performers, willing to sacrifice?

Should we only perform the little repertoire that has been embraced by the masses?
- Are we okay with fueling the popular belief that the only two composers worth noting are Mozart and Beethoven?

Should we allow it to be performed at a wider variety of venues?
- Are we okay with having people order beers during the performance?

Should we allow it to share the bill with the rockstars so many worship?
- Are we okay with being opening acts to get the exposure?

It seems that our community needs to unite and discuss if we want to live playing classical music or to live playing music in order to be classical musicians.

With the necessary changes, we can gain the momentum we need to thrive in the years to come.
Should we come together and create a poll in hopes to move in the right direction, what would the concrete sacrifices be?
- A blog on the future of classical music with discourse on writing another book about the subject


Anonymous said...

In order for classical music to appeal to a younger generation, yes, something must change. These changes could be perceived by classical musicians as sacrifices. If nothing does change, classical music will continue to diminish and eventually become obsolete in our society.

However, how much change will the composers, conductors and performers embrace? Ivan asks if we should “only perform the little repertoire that has been embraced by the masses”? This “popular” repertoire does need to continue to be performed. However, there is no reason why less popular works could not be performed on the same concert. Audience members do not always know what they “like” and “dislike” until they hear it. They need to be exposed to a variety of “classical” music. Strategic programming could be one step to rejuvenating the audiences.

Ivan also asks “should we allow it to be performed at a wider variety of venues”? Why should classical music mainly be performed in the concert hall? The isolation is not helping the growth of our audience. However, how far should we go with that? I’m not sure I’m ready to have beers being opened during a performance of Beethoven’s Third Symphony. The performers and audience need to meet somewhere in the middle.

In order for classical music to go in a new direction and attract a younger audience, while maintaining the one already there, we need to unite as a society. The performers, conductors and composers (the really lovers of classical music) need to come together and figure out a way to make classical music “popular” again. It is not impossible, but will be a significant challenge.

Here is a link to a blog that is interesing:

Olga.K said...

I would disagree with Megan in her pessimistic prognosis of classical music's demise. I think that classical music will never be obsolete-hence the name "classical". There are swings within the masses' musical preferences but I doubt it will ever be tilted too far in one direction.

Having said that, steps do have to be taken to promote knowledge of classical music-the approach Megan mentioned in her post is definitely worth consideration. However I think the main effort should be directed at educating the listeners through easily available beginner musical programs in schools and adult education centers.

Grace Allendorf said...

I tend to agree with Olga in that I think the popularity of classical music is diminishing, but that it wont ever disappear. The die hard fans of our generation would be bold enough to speak up and not let that happen.

In terms of building a younger audience... a friend of mine did an internship with the Boston Landmarks Orchestra (, and one thought they had was to involve cocktails. No, not during the actual concert, but as a separate event. They chose a martini bar, a date and time, and had the interns spread the word via Facebook and MySpace etc. The goal was to get a young crowd together and hand out concert schedules and talk about the orchestra. The conductor even came for part of the evening and mingled with the guests. I am not sure how it actually affected their concert attendance, but they were definitely putting in a valiant effort.

I actually attended this mixer, and while I thought it was a great idea, didnt necessarily find it very successful. I am already a lover of classical music, obviously, so there was no real need to woo me, but I went anyhow. I thought that the bar they chose was far too expensive for people our age, and I didnt really learn much about the organization beyond the schedule, which I could have found on their website. I did like that the conductor was there, and involved, and making an effort to meet people. Overall, I think it was a nice try, but fell short. Despite this, I didnt boo them.