Greg Sandow has a blog and occasionally sends out a newsletter (with no real regularity, but he has enough on his plate [read his blog to find out what]). My inbox has his most recent newsletter and it talks about (of course) the future of classical music (which is pretty much what his blog is all about). Part of this discussion includes what his students at Juilliard think --"why classical musicians can’t be more free to play the masterworks in individual, very personal ways."
I had to chuckle, because I'm not a Juilliard student, so I'm not taking Sandow's class (although I wish I was - on both counts). But, nearly two months ago I blogged about classical musicians needing to commit to music, to making mistakes. In that article I also refer to another article by Greg which leads me to think we're almost having a discussion (only I'm not sure he's aware of it).
Sandow goes on in his newsletter to talk about non-classical music and the collaboration process. What of the self-promotion that non-classical musicians seems to accept as matter of course, where classical musicians seem affronted if self-promotion is even suggested???? Yes, every major artist that comes in to perform with the Colorado Symphony, Opera Colorado or Colorado Ballet does "face time" with major donors - which is somewhat self promoting. But how often do we see the symphony musicians, opera chorus or ballet dancers talking with the local news? reaching out to the public via facebook or performing random "free" concerts to drum up excitement for their own shows? If you read my blog regularly you'll remember I've already discussed this with Changing the Facebook of Classical Music, but it bears repeating.
Another topic in Sandows newsletter is the intellectualizing of classical music. There is more to this topic than can really be discussed in a blog post, however (although I try with Levels of Genius). The phrase "great minds" whispers in my subconscious, but it's more than that. Sandow doesn't want to predict the demise of classical music. I rather agree with Charles Rosen's article "Classical Music in Twilight" (Harper's Magazine Mar98), which suggests classical (or art) music will always be around as long as there are people who want to play it. But the classical music form we have today does seem to be changing.
While some change is good and some change is inevitable, should we lose professional orchestras (as Steve Reich seems to think is happening), and major classical music organizations go by the way side to make room for more art house music with smaller chamber works and a more adventurous program, our music world will be sadly impoverished. Blogger after blogger, columnist after columnist are calling on the classical music organizations to change. Are they listening?
Only time will tell. Let's hope it's not too late when we learn the answer.