Monday, October 05, 2015

Many dangers hedge around the unfortunate composer


The red phone box seen above has been turned into a "virtual reality concert hall" at Snape Maltings, the concert venue created by Benjamin Britten and his partner Peter Pears. Aldeburgh Music has equipped the phone box with a headset - see below - showing a viewer-controlled video of a performance in the Maltings. Aldeburgh Music's digital manager Matt Jolly explains that the project aims to provide "a fun and immersive introduction" to the concert hall. Yes, classical music does need to experiment,and the good news is that the audio/video programme is a performance of Frank Bridge's The Sea - the impressive 360 degree 'virtual reality' video can be watched via this link. But I suggest that the following quote from Britten's 1964 Aspen Award acceptance speech is prominently displayed in the digital phone box:
There are many dangers which hedge around the unfortunate composer: pressure groups which demand true proletarian music, snobs who demand the latest avant-garde tricks ... He may find himself writing more and more for machines, in conditions dictated by machines, and not for humanity: or of course he may end by creating grandiose clap-trap when his real talent is for dance tunes or children's piano pieces.

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