Friday, February 20, 2015

Raga versus Mahler is no contest

We are told accessibility is the key to attracting classical music audiences. But is it really? As part of the admirable Ouverture Spirituelle thread within the 2015 Salzburg Summer Festival there is a performance in the Kollegienkirche by Hindustani and Carnartic musicians of ragas to greet the dawn and sunrise. The ragas start at six o'clock in the morning and the concert on July 26th is already sold out. However, tickets for Daniel Barenboim conducting the Vienna Philharmonic in Mahler's Ninth Symphony at a more conventional hour, are, as I write, still available. Perhaps the key to attracting audiences is not accessible music but different music.

Photo of tabla player Kuljit Bhamra playing with Britten Sinfonia musicians in 2012 was taken by me in the Country & Eastern emporium in Norwich, read the story here. Also on Facebook and Twitter.


Antoine Leboyer said...

The NY Phil has opended their program archive. Lots of information but what is triking is how varied the music they played is.

Look how often Webern was played and by so many different conductors. These days, Webern has virtually disappeared.

Rameau said...

In this case the comparison is really not very fair: the Barenboim concert is given twice in the Great Hall (>2000 seats), the raga concert in the Kollegienkirche (500, 600 seats?), and ticket prices are not the same either (up to 200 € for Barenboim, up to 42 for the Hinduism series).
But if your point is that the Vienna Philharmonic programmes in Salzburg (and not only...) are terribly unimaginative, I agree totally with you... In the opera section, Le nozze di Figaro is not sold either, but the reason is rather clear: big names (singers!)=sold out (Fidelio, Trovatore).

Pliable said...

Rameau, my point was not meant to be very fair. As I think you appreciate, it was an attempt to introduce a little ironic humour into the increasingly gloomy world of music blogging.

We are in complete accord over your main point - the unimaginative mainstream programming. In a festival where the sub-theme is Christian and Hindu music there are innumerable missed opportunities. Messiaen's Turangalîla-Symphonie - a perfect alternative to yet another Mahler symphony - and Holst's Choral Hymns from the Rig Veda are just two.