For my in-progress book on the future of classical music, I’d love to know about classical performances that engaged a community, reaching far beyond the normal orbit of classical music fans.
And I’m especially interested in classical performances that reach to the heart of our current culture. It’s a point I’ve often made, in talks I give on the future of classical music, and here on the blog as well — classical music doesn’t seem to speak for our current culture. It doesn’t (to be a little grandiose) go out and forge the uncreated conscience of our time (to paraphrase a famous line from Joyce). I can think of one classical music event in my time that was important for just about anyone involved in forward-looking culture in New York, the performances of Philip Glass and Robert Wilson’s Einstein on the Beach at the Metropolitan Opera house in 1976 (though not produced by the Metropolitan Opera). Maybe Dr. Atomic is having some of that appeal now, though not as strongly.
Maybe there are other examples in classical music. Certainly it’s easy to find them in other arts — Angels in America, Brokeback Mountain, The Sopranos, the very existence of many people in pop music (Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Madonna, Joni Mitchell, many, many more).
So if you have ideas about this, or know of any examples, I’d love to know them. Tell me about classical music events that rang to the heart of either current culture — not just in theory, but in practice, with wide response from many people — or some particular community.