A serious problem (interlude)

Here's something lovely and true about popular culture, from A. O. Scott's New York Times review of a new movie, Be Kind Rewind. In this film, a video store loses its stock, and - so they'll have something for their customers to rent - the staff of the store remakes classic movies, in their own homemade way. Which leads Scott to write: Commercial pop culture is, too often, understood as a top-down enterprise, its expensive, disposable products passively consumed by the public. And yet at the same time that stuff is capable of inspiring a … [Read more...]

A serious problem (2)

I said I'd talk about a Dana Gioa speech in this post but instead I'm going to spend some time (in this post and the next) with other things that classical music people - and arts advocates - wrongly say about pop culture. Maybe some of this might seem a little bit arcane, but remember: These are the ways that the high-church crowd keeps popular culture at bay, or tries to. So all their arguments have sharp (though hapless) teeth. Some years ago, a very fine classical music critic with a major newspaper told me that pop musicians "take no … [Read more...]

A serious problem

I want to write about something serious, something which - I think - is one of the most serious problems facing mainstream classical music today. And it's this. Classical music organizations are eagerly doing outreach and education, trying to rebuild the audience and cultural clout that they used to have. These efforts are passionate, intense, and deeply committed. The people engaged in them love classical music with all their hearts, and believe - again with all their hearts - that other people can love it, too. But there's one step they … [Read more...]

Pop vs. classical

This is a big subject. We've discussed it here before. (Here, for instance.) I myself don't like the "vs" part, since I enjoy pop and classical music more or less equally, with no thought of pitting one against the other. But I can see that many people don't think that way. In a recent discussion in my Juilliard class on the future of classical music, some of the students defined the value of classical music by saying that it was spiritual, or that it had a great range of emotion. I realized that in saying these things, they were also making … [Read more...]