Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Summer music without that incontinent applause


Iconic is a grossly overused exaltation. But the twin cherry logo of Ibiza's Pacha superclub is genuinely iconic. And there is a connection between that icon of electronic trance and classical music. The logo was created by designer Yvette Montsalvatge; she is the daughter of composer Xavier Montsalvatge (1912-2002) who has been profiled here and was the inspiration for the composer's Sonatine pour Yvette. The connection is revealed in Helen Donlon's recently published and recommended exploration of the social and cultural history of Ibiza and its nocturnal playgrounds Shadows Across the Moon. In it Helen Donlon develops a theme that has recurred over the years On An Overgrown Path, namely the power of music to transform consciousness. She namechecks, among others, La Monte Young, Philip Glass and Hazrat Inayat Khan, and tell how:
Throughout history, losing yourself to music in order to achieve satisfaction at some higher level has been seen as an irresistible temptation... In the heady centre of [Ibiza] during the summer months, today's superstar DJ is the more commercial manifestation of the trance shaman. His ancestors are high priests, masters of ceremony, bandleaders and orchestral conductors.


Later in the book Richie Hawtin, whose immersive ENTER. events at Ibiza superclub Space encourage audiences to lose themselves in the music - see video above*, explains that:
...You've also got a whole group of people who are just coming to experience this incredible concept they've heard about. We hope people will walk out of that experience and and dig a little bit deeper, and look for more challenging forms of music.
Surely encouraging audiences to dig a little bit deeper and look for more challenging forms of music should also be the objective of classical festivals such as the BBC Proms. But instead the Proms is stuck in a 'more of the same' loop, with the the most challenging element in 2018 being a reheating of the tired old debate about applause between movements. Of course applauding between movements is a personal choice. Just as ending my engagement with the 2018 Proms season on the first night after the unctuous intro by Georgia Mann and Petroc Trelawny and the seapages of applause between Venus and Mercury was also a personal choice.

Some simplistic but revealing maths are appropriate here. Radio 3's audience has remained broadly static at around 2 million over the last five years despite desperate attempts to win a new audience from Classic FM. So let's assume that each year Radio 3 has won 100,000 listeners from its deadly rival. That means that the gain of 500,000 new listeners has been offset by the loss of the same number of long-standing listeners. Therefore if Radio 3 changed its strategy to winning back lapsed listeners like me, it could increase its audience by 25%. But there is very little chance of the current race-to-the-bottom ending. What is much more likely is that next year's season highlight will be Clemency Burton-Hill presenting Clemmie's Love Island Prom. So here is my summer playlist which is guaranteed 100% free of patronising presenters and incontinent applauders:

~ 'Music for Installations' by Brian Eno
~ 'Earth Particles' by Leszek Możdżer & Holland Baroque - see video below*
~ 'Invisible Faces' by Tomáš Liška
~ 'How We Fall' by J. Peter Schwalm
~ 'Gypsy Baroque' by Il Suonar Parlante Orchestra and Vittorio Ghielmi
~ Thomas Adès 'Asyla', CBSO conducted by Simon Rattle - this work is said to be influenced by contemporary electronic trance music



*YouTube videos do not appear on RSS version of this post. Overgrown Path posts are available via RSS/email by entering your email address in the sidebar. Copyrighted material is included for critical analysis and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s).

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