Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Youtube Generation & Classical Music

Keeping with the recent trend of discussion involving classical music artists and Youtube, I came across an article written by two pianists I've been following since 2008, Greg Anderson and Elizabeth Roe. The two formed a piano duo while studying together at Julliard and Yale and began making music videos on Youtube of their duo repertoire -- much of which is arranged by the two of them. For example, in a four-hand arrangement of Schubert's Der Erlk├Ânig, the Anderson/Roe duo created a mini horror film, which ends with the piano devouring its players. More recently, the two released a ten-episode music video of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring for four-hands. In it, the two pianists can be seen throwing buckets of paint onto one another, playing a keyboard that's covered in millipedes, and attempting to play underwater.

Here's just the trailer for their Rite project:

The article explains the two's philosophy behind the creation of music videos, as opposed to solely being touring performers:
"Believe it or not, ‘classical’ music—with its drama and substance, colour and resonance—provides tremendous fodder for cinematic interpretation. If the songs of Lady Gaga can engender music videos filled with outrageously creative tableaux, just imagine what the variegated music of the classical idiom could inspire....Ultimately, we want to share the music we love with new audiences, audiences who otherwise might not listen to Brahms or Boulez. A single click could be an entry point to a transporting and even transformative soundverse."
One thing that seems to be a common thread in many of the articles I've read is the success of ensembles that have found ways of bringing young people and non-musicians into the concert hall. The Anderson/Roe duo has clearly found a way to do this by using the Youtube platform to garner popularity. (Right now, their Youtube channel has 41 videos and over 7 million views. Since the release of their first video in 2007, the two have embarked on two international tours.) Specifically for their non-musician audience, or their non-classical loving audience, these videos can serve as a gateway into exploring similar classical music and acquiring a taste of the styles of the great composers.

Regardless of whether we believe that classical music, itself, does not need visuals to enhance its substance, I personally feel that the duo is doing a wonderful thing. Not only have they created fans of their work, but they've opened up a realm of music to a large community of people that would have otherwise thought it irrelevant.

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