Sunday, September 30, 2012

Classical Music and Poverty

I was inspired after reading about a recent concert in Central Park which brought attention to poverty. Rock musicians have been at the forefront of issue-based concerts for the past few decades. They have put themselves on the line by associating with specific causes. The fact that some of them are a part of concerts like the one in New York is admirable.

Where are classical musicians? Why are we not a part of this equation? And if we are, why is it that hardly any attention is brought to it? These are important questions to consider when we brainstorm ways to thrive as musicians in the 21st century. It makes sense to bring together indie-rock bands and indie-classical groups in an awareness-based concert. Think about the possibility of a concert with acts like the Kronos Quartet, Asphalt Orchestra, Brian Eno, eighth blackbird, and other new music stars sharing the stage with Grizzly Bear, The Black Keys, Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes, and other Indie-Rock stars. Such a show would bring together an eclectic mix of fans with fairly similar ideals. While such a combination would in no way end poverty overnight, it would certainly change the flavor of the conversation.

I can guarantee that history has seen its fair share of awareness concerts featuring classical music. Why not return to this and bring art music from the stage to the people? The modern hierarchy of classical music seems as removed from extreme poverty and other related issues as possible. This doesn't mean that the musicians or patrons are though. A great example of musicians taking on this challenge was mentioned by Peter in his recent post. This shows that classical music does have the ability to help others in a meaningful way.  Judging by El Sistema and other models, classical music has the power to reach poverty-stricken youth on a deep level and change their lives. This should inspire individual musicians to do so at every opportunity possible, whether it's through a symphony orchestra, string quartet, or solo recital. Because of our unique roles as performers, we should be striving to be agents of change in the world.

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