Blending Pop and Classical: a way forward

If Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, considers pop music the dumbing down of our youth, then he really needs to take in more concerts like the one held at the MATA Festival. Founded in 1996 by Philip Glass, Eleonor Sandresky, and Lisa Bielawa, MATA presents pieces by young composers on a week-long festival, held each spring in New York City. The result is a blend of pop, classical, fusion, rock, electronica... et al.

Allan Kozinn of the New York Times goes indepth in reviewing a recent performance by violist Nadia Sirota and the guitarist Andrew McKenna Lee. The festival is so successful this performance was actually an interval performance, one done outwith the festival's normal schedule and speaks of the popularity, the demand for this sort of concert. 'Mr Lee closed the program with “Sunrise From the Bottom of the Sea” (2005), an effects-heavy electric guitar work that paid homage to Jimi Hendrix, with passing nods to Jimmy Page and in a series of glittering trilled passages, Steve Hillage.'

Maybe, Mr Johnson, you just don't know Pop music, which is how you can be so disparaging of it. But the above artists honored in "Sunrise From the Bottom of the Sea" are(wer) all POP musicians and all virtuoso artists in their own right. If, perhaps London were to take a page from New York, and actually create a Classical Festival that explored new music by new composers they might find new music that blends the best of both worlds - and a new way forward.

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