Classical music needs to make its diversity more diverse

Back in 2014 after attending a work-in-progress outing for the realisation of Ravi Shankar's opera Sukanya I wrote that "Sukanya, with its trans-cultural pedigree and message that there is life beyond Western materialism, may be just the opera to show that Anna Nicole is not the only way to attract new audiences". Now, after semi-staged performances of the completed opera comes an admirable double CD release on the London Philharmonic's own label captured at a 2017 performance. It is pleasing to see Sukanya growing in stature over the years while Mark-Anthony Turnage’s click bait opera Anna Nicole fades from memory. But it is sad to see so little attention paid by the classical twitterati to David Murphy and the LPO's brave advocacy of Pandit Shankar's opera. Classical music resounds with self-congratulation about its embrace of diversity. But in reality that diversity is no more than a cosmetic dash of box office-friendly colour painted on a resolutely monochrome establishment. As was confirmed by the Amazon algorithm that recommended Sheku Kanneh-Mason's Elgar album based on my interest in Sukanya.

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JMW said…
Well said. I would find this an irresistible event to attend were it staged here. Imagine if a couple of works such as these were to replace a Rigoletto here and there. Imagine seeing Saegusa's "Chushingura" (which is a true, historical, and legendary story) in a season along with Aida. Or Still's "Troubled Island"...
Qi said…
I certainly agree with both what you and JMW have said. On a somewhat related note, I was rather surprised to see that my old hometown orchestra was partnering with Rap Royalty for what promises to be a pretty memorable night. Now, orchestras playing live soundtracks to accompany films is certainly nothing new. Even Pops concerts now regularly feature some Rap or Hip Hop artist, but what really surprised me, was the response the event received on the local entertainment weekly's social media page: nearly 3000 comments and SHARES! That was considerably more attention than the DSO received for its recent Grammy wins!
Purists will probably loathe it, but this is a massive public relations WIN for the DSO! And yes, it's bringing new audiences into the concert hall!
Pliable said…
Qi's thoughtful comment has triggered a new post on this subject -

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