Robert Everett-Green, a music and culture critic of the Toronto Globe and Mail, takes on — to quote the teaser at the top of his piece — “the increasingly strident turf wars between fans of pop and of classical music, the growing flap over this fall’s sweeping changes to CBC Radio 2, and the undeniable politics behind the battle over what constitutes culture.”
This is a three-part series — the first part (which is where the link above goes) came out July 26; the next parts will be on successive Saturdays, August 2 and August 9 — and readers of this blog will feel right at home (or really angry, depending on what they think of many things that I say). Everett-Green hits especially hard at the sense of entitlement classical music people often have:
Everyone has the right to think that their music is best, including the teenagers who hurry through Toronto’s Bathurst subway station to escape the classical music played through the PA system to deter them from hanging around. But only classical fans and organizations believe that the quality of their music gives it and them a natural entitlement to the lion’s share of public funding….
What distresses some of the CBC’s classical listeners is the feeling that the margin is invading the centre. If a DJ track can be presented on the same footing as a piano piece by Fauré, what’s to stop more pop pieces from completely displacing classical music? Ephemeral value will trump permanent value.
It’s at this point that classical listeners start complaining about how politics are creeping into the CBC’s programming, not noticing or admitting that the previous situation was also political. It just didn’t seem that way, because it was in harmony with the fans’ assumption that classical music deserves special status.
Powerful stuff, powerfully put. Bravo. (And Everett-Green loves Gavin Bryars’ Jesus’s Blood Never Failed Me Yet, one of my own great favorites, so he’s got me coming and going.) [Added 8/4]: Unfortunately, the Globe and Mail charges $4.95 for articles more than a week old (and that’s Canadian dollars, so it’s even more expensive for readers from the U.S.). So you won’t be able to read this free. (I find this notably backward. Hope this isn’t American chauvinism, but the tendency here is to go the other way, and make content available free. The New York Times stopped charging for older articles a while ago.)
[Added 8/5] We can read Everett-Green’s series here, without paying, on a site called “Stand on Guard for CBC.” (But — glad as I am to have these pieces available — is this a copyright violation?) Thanks to Emily Gray for the tip.
And many thanks to Molly Sheridan, for linking the first article in her terrific ArtsJournal blog, Mind the Gap. That’s how I found out about it.