A few days ago, I was talking to someone at a large classical music organization, yet another person who wants to widen the audience for classical music, and in general bring classical music (or at least the way his organization works with it) into contemporary life.

He was outlining his ideas to me, and said something wonderful: “I want to develop some programming that people will love.” And suddenly it struck me: I don’t hear anything like that very often. I myself don’t talk like that. We’re all concerned with widening the audience, and our conversations about that often seem abstract, or suffused with worry. We want to develop programming that won’t turn a younger audience off. Or, a little more positively, programming that will attract a younger audience—but “attract” is really such a bland and empty word. Or programming that will attract a new audience, but not turn off the existing one. Or programming that will attract new people, but won’t dumb down the music.

Worry, worry everywhere. The fear of failure lurks behind every sentence. And here comes this wonderful, lively, sunny, smiling man, who says he wants programming that people will love! Maybe this sounds sentimental, but as he said that, my thoughts filled with an image of a sunrise. We don’t realize what great opportunities the problems of classical music can give us.

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