The media has definitely had a hand in the way audiences view classical musicians in the recent past. I remember looking at my parents' CDs and records and wondering why only some of them had pictures of the artist performing the music. Two I remember specifically were Mozart's String Quartet in Bb and a Sandi Patty record. Sandi Patty's record had a picture of her right on the front (as most of her albums do) whereas the Mozart had a picture of a star fruit....Two completely different images for two completely different kinds of music. But why would Sandi Patty have a picture of herself whereas the Mozart, played by the wonderful Quatuor Ysaÿe, had fruit on the cover?
My immediate reaction is one of confusion. Now when I looked into Quatuor Ysaÿe, I discovered that they did a similar cover with wood pieces on their recording of Mendelssohn's string quartets. Still, who would you find more accessible to the mainstream? One classical musician who stands out to me as one who's reached out to the larger public in recent years is Yo-Yo Ma. He is on the front of almost all of his CD covers. This act alone makes him a more tangible figure to the public because a face is now associated with the music he makes. Is this one of the reasons why we are drawn to more "popular" artists? Not only because they are more accessible, but because they are more tangible and "real" to us? As Boyle and Sarah mentioned, many classical artists are attempting to "bridge the gap" and cross over into the more popularized realm in order to spread awareness of themselves and their music. Some of them do remarkably well where others are not so successful.
Here is an example of a crossover by Renée Fleming.
Here is a wonderful video of Yo-Yo Ma working with dancer Lil Buck. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
The plight of today's musicians is this: how do we maintain the "authenticity" and "integrity" of the music we perform while still maintaining our artistic freedom and not alienating our potential audiences?