The Future of Music!

A casual discussion about the future of music
The weekly Brass Performance Workshop, which I host at Melbourne Uni is changing this year in that I am making it more like a seminar - a session where we can have discussions, invite guests to talk about the brain, the body, the industry ...

Last week I casually began a discussion about the future of music. Easy topic? To kick things off, I read them some bits from:

Alex Ross’s article “Why do we hate modern classical music?” , Greg Sandow’s summary of his forthcoming book “Rebirth: the future of classical music”, as well as some of my own comments about the era of the classical/brass/orchestral “sense of entitlement” being well and truly over.

What were some of things that emerged?
There were three main strands to the various discussions - the orchestra and its relevance - presenting new music - education

These were some of the things that were talked about:

• mention of El Sistema

• ideas about making music education more relevant in schools (I referred to this article by Richard Gill)

• the chasm between “theory” and “practice” at (many) modern universities

• using multi-media and stories to make (old) music more interesting to sonically sophisticated (young) listeners

• realizing that music has to move with culture to remain relevant

• why dissonance/atonality in some situations (films) is so effective, but still causes upset in others (concerts)

• why labelling new orchestral music as “filmy” seems so dismissive (we were talking about Westlake’s recent work performed by the MSO at the Myer Music Bowl)

• questioning whether an orchestra’s tactic of presenting “pop events” actually attracts a younger audience to “heritage” classical music

• the distribution of funding by arts bodies

• is the situation really that bad?

• the live orchestra versus the iPod (I asked with a straight face - “why aren’t orchestral concerts amplified? If it’s done well, the audience doesn’t even need to know!”)

• youtube and iTunes - effect on concert going

• the ineffectiveness of the labels of “classical”, “orchestral”, “world”, “jazz”

While we didn’t find any instant answers to all this, I am reassured that 45 young brass players became engaged and offered thoughtful and insightful comments. This makes me think that we may indeed be part of creating a new generation of player who is informed, inventive, resourceful, creative.

Feedback please.

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