How classical music painted itself into a corner
My best personal example is that I seem to have developed a resistance to the latest "sensational" pianist/soprano/tenor/whatever. This item provides a convincing rationale. Do I miss something with this attitude? Perhaps ... but if the newest sensation lasts, you usually catch up with them sooner or later anyhow.That comment was added by a regular reader who is part of classical music's core audience to a recent post about classical music shouting too loudly. It highlights how classical music has painted itself into a corner - the core audience which classical music remains stubbonly dependent on is becoming increasingly resistant to the shrill hype of the PR machine, while the long-promised new audience that the hype is aimed at refuses to materialise.
Reader Scott provides one example of the growing resistance to hype, On An Overgrown Path provides another. Press releases arriving in my inbox are treated with extreme suspicion and stories covered by Norman Lebrecht, Sinfini Music and others in the culturally commentated world are treated as damaged goods. Which is my choice - this is a personal blog and my pleasure is to choose what I write about. But therein lies the problem; As music journalism surrenders to the shrill hype of the PR machine, so it loses authority. For better or worse, On An Overgrown Path's non-aligned position means it has retained a degree of authority, but I find myself increasingly unwilling to exert that authority for fear of becoming just another cog in the classical music PR machine.
These musings were sparked by an unsolicited email from the young British Vienna-based conductor George Jackson. I almost sent it the trash bin together with news of yet another child prodigy. But several things about the email caught my eye: it was written not by a PR agency but by George Jackson personally, and he clearly was a reader of my blog - you would be very surprised how many emails arrive from PR agencies asking me to promote X Factor contestants. Moreover George was sharing a video of his Wiener Musikverein debut conducting Ombres by the contemporary composer Michael Jarrell, and it was nice to see not too many empty seats in the Musikverein for that concert.
Music journalism has traded authority for impact. Which means it is failing emerging talents like George Jackson, because it no longer provides the balanced and independent media coverage needed for their careers to develop in a measured fashion. On An Overgrown Path is also failing these musicians because, in common with most of the core audience, it has developed a severe adverse reaction to the shrill hype of the PR industry. That is how classical music painted itself into a corner.
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