Monday, November 29, 2010

Unity in Division?

As I read the final chapter of Healing the Rift, it seemed to me that Hewett was summarizing most of the major issues that we've discussed this semester. I found myself nodding and underlining, but I kept wondering what grand solution he would ultimately propose. Is there really a way to "heal the rift" in modern music? As a composer, I have to believe that the answer is "yes." My rallying cry would probably sound something like, "Activate listeners and unify musicians!" But Hewett's proposed solution surprised me. He certainly agrees that we must cultivate a generation of active--rather than passive--listeners, but his vision for musicians is not necessarily one of unity:

"I'd be content with an end to the ideology of 'breaking down barriers,' and an admission that distinctions really do matter. What I am pleading for is genuine plurality, not the fake one we have at present. The growth of fusion is unstoppable - it needs no help from anyone, least of all arts centers. What does need help is the sense that music has human possibilities beyond the purveying of fantasy. As [classical music] loses its privileged status, its formal and human qualities can shine forth unclouded by resentment. Our music-making would give us a real lived connection between past and present, a connection for which classical music is, after all, only a beautiful metaphor. If we cannot have a real musical Utopia, let us at least preserve the imaginative possibility of such a thing. And that possibility is what classical music holds out to us. "

So can there be unity in diversity and healing in the acceptance of plurality?

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