The future of classical music - again
Greg Sandow writes a high-profile blog on 'the future of classical music' and I received the following email this morning:
I thought your readers might be interested in this week’s post on the NPAC (National Performing Arts Convention) blog: Greg Sandow writes about how distinguishing between “high” and “low” art and “popular” culture versus, simply, “culture” limits audiences. All comments – agreements and arguments alike - are welcome.
As regular readers will know I'm very interested in the future of classical music so I checked out First Chair Promotions website which told me they are - 'a fully integrated firm devoted to supporting unique artists and their vast ranges of interests and talents. First Chair promises the most innovative iniatives in marketing and publicity and is committed to breaking down conventional media and collabaration boundaries.'
First Chair Promotion's clients include Hilary Hahn who is managed by leading music power broker and talent agency IMG Artists, singer/songwriter Gabriel Kahane who is also contracted to IMG, bass/baritone Eric Owens who, sorry to be boring, is also with IMG, soprano Measha Brueggergosman who is, you guessed it, signed to IMG, England's own King's Singers, yes they are too, and 'critic/composer/consultant' Greg Sandow .
Just people doing their job, nobody is hiding anything, you can find it simply by Googling, and it is the future of classical music.
Photo of opening night of 2006 BBC Proms conducted by IMG artist Jiri Belohlavek and played by IMG ensemble BBC Symphony Orchestra (c) On An Overgrown Path. Report broken links, missing images and errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk
But look at this week's Billboard Classical Top 10. The current number one disc is, like the Schoenberg/Sibelius Concertos, released on Deutsche Grammophon and like Hilary Hahn, the artist on it, tenor Rolando Villazón, is contracted to IMG. Déjà vu?
Also note that five of the current Classical Top 10 five are from the Universal Group (the world's biggest record company which includes DG) and Denon is the only independent label represented -
As I said in my post, it's the future of classical music.
IMHO, the Classical world is caught between the people wanting to push boundaries, and ultimately push them so far they push the audience away (ref: Milton Babbit's imfamous quoute) or they are so locked into the "standards" that new immerging artists struggle to get noticed.
It's nice to see what First Chair is doing - to give a voice to people who otherwise might not be heard.
Note - I tend to speak on this topic often on my own blog.
If you're thinking of Who Cares If You Listen, the title wasn't his doing, it was his publishers; Babbitt's title was The Composer as Specialist.
I suspect you've never actually read Babbitt's piece, which is summed up nicely by Matthrew Guerrieri of Soho the Dog here:
And Brookes caricatures Babbitt's point, which was not that the audience didn't matter, but that just because the advanced serialism he was writing about wasn't attracting a wide audience didn't mean it was pointless or not worthy of being written. (Whenever Babbitt talks about the "composer" in the essay, remember, he's talking about composers, in his words, "of what we will, for the moment, designate as 'serious,' 'advanced,' contemporary music.") If you want to write populist music, have a blast—I will point out that Babbitt taught Stephen Sondheim for a period. (And apparently spent their lessons doing in-depth analysis of American popular song.)
Yes, Pliable, your last point is well taken, it's no different from the Sex Pistols proclaiming they were going to destroy the record industry whilst being signed to EMI > Warner Brothers or Rage Against the Machine ranting about the evils of corporations while being signed to Sony. By definition, if you're on a major label, you *are* the establishment, not some put upon indie.