I asked my roommate Ben to tell me the first thing that came to his mind when I said "Classical Music". His response was, in order: old, white, european, elitist. After a quick laugh I began to ponder this response. It is not so different from what many individuals alive in the 21st century might say. I can't say that I totally disagree, but I asked why he felt this way. "... because every time I've seen classical music performed live I'm expected to dress nice and not clap till the end. How am I supposed to know when it ends? It's not always when the music stops. I always end up waiting for other people to clap. That's the only way I know it's safe. Then if you do clap when you're not supposed to everyone looks at you with the evil eye like you're rude and obnoxious."
The simplistic analysis aside, my roommate does seem to have a point. Perhaps we need to revert back to our readings in "Highbrow/Lowbrow". Once upon a time concert audiences applauded and thoroughly showed their appreciation for the music. These days I have to agree with Benjamin. We need to show more appreciation for our performers and our genre. Why do we have to adhere to every tradition laid before us? Perhaps it's time to move into the 21st century and simply adapt.
Having performed extensively in both contemporary music and classical music I have to say that performing classical music does bring forth a level certain of stress. I've been in hundreds of weddings, countless parties, bars and clubs, hotels and even a couple funerals, I have to say that classical music exudes the most pressure. For me, personally, it is the formality of it all. The concert attire, the bowing, the all-eyes-on-you waiting to see your every move. To a point I can agree that there should be some tradition evident in our performances, but we need to encourage our audiences, and our peers, to be more engaging. We must try to get rid of this holier-than-thou impression that people have of us and make it more fun. In the 21st century everything is changing. Constant change is not formal. If the idealistic approach to classical music doesn't change we will get left behind like everything else in this small world. We must remember that our ability to perform classical music doesn't make us better than everyone else and that success is not a derivative of talent. We have a responsibility to bring our "classical music" to a wider audience in a more accessible, relaxed format. Perhaps we should start with changing the term "classical music"