July 25, 2006
Free has a Price, tooby Frank J. Oteri
Allan, I can totally relate to what you're saying about some people lacking respect for something when it is free. However, I know from personal experience that you can even be sitting at a concert at Carnegie amidst endless chatter and I've also been to free concerts where the audience behaved spectacularly.
I admit I've officially given up on orchestra concerts in the park after observing picnickers not only talking thoughout the performances but even once watching folks nearby with a radio on tuned to a different station. I'm a fan of indeterminate music, and the combination of sounds was probably a more interesting experience than rehearing the warhorse I was trying to listen to at the time, but even I have my limits! These concerts are not for everybody. In fact, they're probably not for you or me. Clearly, though, we also need free events if this music is to have any impact beyond the folks who are willing to make sacrifices for it.
It's been said that "classical music" is more a way of listening to the music than the actual music itself and I think much needs to be done to get people to listen more attentively, no matter the context. The skills people can gain from focussing on music have much larger societal implications. In a world where most people are unable to listen to each other, very little ever happens beyond the surface level, there is constantly a threat of unprovoked aggression which frequently leads to uncontrollable large-scale violence, and uninformed opinions rule the day. Wait a minute, that sounds like the world we're living in these days...
Posted by foteri at July 25, 2006 02:34 PM
"It's been said that "classical music" is more a way of listening to the music than the actual music itself and I think much needs to be done to get people to listen more attentively, no matter the context."
Hi Frank, I really appreciate this comment. And it's true -we all need to improve our listening skills, no matter the context. However, musically-speaking, this is part of what makes my work as a teaching artist so fulfilling - it's that my colleagues and I are inviting people to listen in a deeper way. We're not trying to tell our students (children and adults) what they should like or dislike in terms of composers or musical styles. Instead, we try to give them more listening tools to use and the opportunity to question and think more creatively. If this approach could be incorporated in the musical outreach programs, but without the "this is good for you" message attached to it, I think you would find an overall increase in curious and engaged listeners.
My sense is that the grassroots efforts from individual performers and composers, teaching artists, smaller chamber ensembles and organizations, music-bloggers... are the most effective in reaching out to new audiences and in keeping the classical music climate healthy. The bigger institutions are usually the slowest or the last to act.
Posted by: Beata Moon at July 26, 2006 09:49 AM
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