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.