Wednesday, April 23, 2014

You can do better than that


"Do you remember the first time you heard classical music" asks a tweet from the Bienen Music School linked to my recent post about Jan Willis. Some years ago I recounted how my parents took me in the early 1960s to hear Tchaikovsky's Sixth Symphony played by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra under the young Singaporean maestro Choo Hoey. That was one of my music epiphanies, and another is also worth recounting. Sometime in the late 1950s I borrowed a record by Tommy 'Mister Twist' Steele from a schoolfriend to play on our home radiogram. My mother, who was an accomplished pianist, said just one thing when she heard it: "You can do better than that, Bob". I have always remembered those wise words, and classical music can also learn much from them. If it really wants to build a new audience, classical music should forget all the notably unsuccessful nonsense about reinventing itself as entertainment. Instead concert promoters, record companies, music journalists and radio stations should be proclaiming: "You can do better than that entertainment audiences; join us for the ride and we will show you how". As the BBC moves towards appointing a new Radio 3 controller and Proms director, their management should keep in mind that the outgoing BBC classical music supremo Roger Wright will be remembered for sacrificing art on the altar of entertainment, while one of his predecessors, William Glock, is remembered for reinvigorating classical music by giving audiences "what they will like tomorrow".


Photos were taken a few weeks ago in Sidi Ifni, Morocco. The boarded up Twist Club is a relic of the 1950s when the town was a Spanish military garrison; the footer photo is a detail of the facade of the magnificent art deco cinema also built by the Spanish. Striking images but also a striking teaching: they both show places of entertainment that were abandoned half a century following a cultural shift, but are preserved today as artworks. Photos are (c) On An Overgrown Path 2014. Any other copyrighted material is included as "fair use" for critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s).

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