What to look for in 2009

There have been lots of predictions as to who and what to look for in 2009 in terms of Classical Music, so I thought I'd add mine to the list. Some of these will be no surprise.

Gustavo Dudamel will continue to rock the conducting world as the fresh new face in Classical Music. He has already established himself as a rebel with extraordinary skills on the podium, but I believe this year we'll see him lead an orchestra that will be up for a Grammy in 2010.

Hilary Hahn will continue to amaze people with her precision and skill on the violin. Her ability to play some of the most difficult pieces in the repertoire with exacting skill while creating an emotional impact will only continue this year. I suspect we'll see her win the Grammy in 2009 and be up for another one in 2010.

Marin Alsop is in her 2nd year at the podium of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and continues to lead the way in bringing new music to audiences on both the East and West coasts of the US. This year we are likely to see her gain further notoriety by presenting something new and strikingly fresh (even though she hasn't yet agreed to perform any of my works...).

Valery Gergiev will continue his progression through the Mahler Symphonies and should be up for a Grammy for one of them. His understanding of the nuances in Mahler's music is among the best at the podium today. However, this nomination will be in part as a recognition for much of his other work.

The YouTube Orchestra performing a piece by Tan Dun will not only be a huge success for YouTube, but will spark a host of copycat performances on the Internet. This won't be a boon for classical composers just yet, but it will mark the start of an higher Internet presence for classical music, particularly live performances that will effect the way we think of performing classical music for years to come.

On the heels of this, I expect we'll begin to see opera performances provided via web streaming. These will initially be pay for view performances, but smaller houses will likely begin to present web casts to gain audience share, rather than padding their bottom line. While this will bring more viewers to opera, it is going to initially affect the profits for mid-range opera houses around the country, in a time when money is likely to be in short supply. Maybe this isn't good news for 2009, but in the long term it should be.

2009 should be a year where a lot of new technologies come into play and some already emerging artists continue to cement their place at the top of their game. We might see some new faces and hear some new music, but I don't suspect 2009 is really going to be the year for this sort of discovery. This year, reaching audiences is going to be the focus and those performers, houses and organisations that find innovative ways to do it are going to be the ones leading the way into 2010.


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