Friday, December 30, 2011
How classical music ignored the breaking news
While researching donors to the Royal Opera House for a recent post I was reminded of John Cage's observation that "The opera in society, is an ornament of the lives of the people who have". In his New Yorker review of 2011 Alex Ross picks up on my fiscal theme and eloquently describes the funding sources of major classical institutions as resembling "a rogues’ gallery of international financial malfeasance". Impending global economic meltdown and the Arab Spring dominated the news in 2011, yet classical music's response was an introspective debate on how to support its serious money habit. Despite this, like Alex, I continued to be moved and inspired by music. My header photo shows troubadour éthique Titi Robin who premiered his River Banks project in Paris in November and proved that outstanding music making and alternative business models are not mutually exclusive. If I may be excused one solipsism, John McLaughlin Williams' advocacy of Philippa Schuyler, which progressed from blog to BBC, showed how selfless commitment can transform the marginal into the mainstream. This message was reinforced by the irreplaceable Montserrat Figueras and Jordi Savall whose cross-cultural Mare Nostrum showed us once again how commercially successful music can remain principled and engaged. Let us hope more follow these examples in 2012.
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