Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Thinking Outside the Classical Music Box

Richard Nilsen of The Arizona Republic wrote an interesting article on Feb 1st, "Classical music fights for relevance." The point of the article is discussing ways in which to rethink the way we approach the classical music concert.

It approaches the concept based on the the thoughts of Phoenix Symphony Orchestra's Music Director Michael Christie (pictured). Ideas like event programming - new music that ties in with more established pieces, "Keeping Score" - visiting artists attempt to help audiences understand the music, new means of expression - alternate styles of playing music. Yet, not every innovation has worked. An early attempt to display a televised picture of the conductor above the stage, for audiences to see, left many seasick when the technology left the TV picture out of synch with the music. Or And a "glow-in-the-dark club" that encouraged students to bring their laptops to certain concerts and access a symphony Web site that provided real-time program notes.

Other orchestra's are doing similar things to reach new audiences. The key is thinking about audiences outside the norm for classical music concerts. The moment this happens the music that gets programmed, the form of the concert and even the appearance of the concert (from dress code to location) can change.

As a composer of new music, this sort of "out of the box" thinking means more new works are likely to be considered, more new faces (young performers, conductors and composers) are going to be given a chance to shine and more people are potentially going to be exposed to a world of music full of possibilities.

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