The first prerequisite for listening to music is so obvious
'The first prerequisite for listening to music is so obvious that it almost seems ludicrous to mention, yet it is often the single element that is absent: to pay attention and to give the music your concentrated effort as an active listener'That is Aaron Copland writing in What to Listen for in Music back in 1939. Today, advocating tweeting in concerts is considered über-cool, but advocating mindfulness in concerts is considered über-uncool. Which is strange: because icons such as Copland and Cage who are revered by the new, younger target audience, advocated mindfulness. Norman Lebrecht recently disingenuously suggested* that as 100,000 people had read Baldur Brönimann’s proposals for changing classical music, 100,000 people were in favour of tweeting and drinking during concerts. I am not foolhardy enough to suggest that as a Google search for the term 'John Cage mindfulness' returns 991,000 results, there are 991,000 people who believe that mobile phones and drinks have no place in concerts. But I am suggesting, once again, that classical music should stop ignoring the glaringly obvious. Of course some things need to change in classical concerts; not least the unadventurous and audience whoring programmes performed by unadventurous and audience whoring celebrity musicians. But too many of the proposals for change that keep doing the rounds are just another form of the audience whoring** that has already done so much damage to classical music.
* Links to 'Slipped Disc' are indirect to avoid page rank inflation; references cited should be at the top of the Google search results.
** It would be interesting to learn the views of Baldur Brönimann’s new orchestra Orquestra Sinfónica do Porto Casa da Música - which records for Naxos and other labels - on his assertion that: "People should be able to tweet, take pictures or record concerts silently. If people buy tickets, they should have the rights to record what they see and share their thoughts with others". Doubtless Univeral Music/Sinfini also have some robust views on Brönimann’s alternative approach to intellectual property ownership.
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