No content, no controversy

China, for various reasons, has been a topic of conversation in my life lately. And one question that always comes up is why, exactly, classical music is so prevalent in China -- though, it's important to note, nobody quite knows how prevalent it is. Prevalent enough to be notable, in any case, and to produce some terrific composers and astonishing young instrumentalists. So why is this? Maybe it's linked to China's emergence as a world power, and to its blinding increase in wealth. Now we have more people with money. Classical music (much as … [Read more...]

Putting ideas into action

ADDED LATER: I want to make something very clear -- that the organization I'm talking about here is quite terrific, both artistically and in the way they're run. Which made me thrilled to work with them, even before the work began. I talk a lot in what follows about strategic planning, and about how not to jump into certain innovations until there's a strategic plan for the innovations to be part of. This organization, in my contact with them, does a better job with strategic thinking than some major institutions I've worked with or otherwise … [Read more...]

Rights and opportunities

This is a footnote to my "Missed Opportunities" post, in which I urged music schools -- and music students, even if the schools don't take any action -- to promote student recitals, and in fact to develop a new audience (of the students' own age) that never came to these recitals at all.Part of my plan, if the schools got involved, was to do video streams of every recital, and then to archive these videos on the schools' websites. But here I should have mentioned some inescapable issues with streaming rights. You can't just stream copyrighted … [Read more...]

Classical idol — scalable

I asked my students -- both at Eastman and Juilliard -- to invent a concert that might attract an audience their own age. And the responses have been fabulous. I've posted a couple from two of my Eastman students, Leah Goldstein and Kara LaMoure. Leah had a sparkling idea for a concert with music partly by the audience, and Kara designed an enticing concert, with some important notes on what people her age like and don't like. And now Kathryn Eberle, one of my Juilliard students, came up with an idea for an American Idol-style competition for … [Read more...]

Missed opportunity

On Twitter I met Josh Newton, a composition student (older than most) at the University of Southern Maine. Josh has many interesting things to say, and gave a talk not long ago to a group of non-music students at his school. And out of that, something striking emerged. Let him tell it (I'm quoting his e-mail to me, with his permission):I started by asking how many of the 15-20 students had been to a concert at all within the last few years, how many of those were art music (after translating for them), and then how many would attend … [Read more...]

In C, in the Wall Street Journal

My Wall Street Journal piece on In C, that is -- about the triumphant Carnegie Hall anniversary celebration. Which I loved. But beyond that, I found myself getting wistful, wishing that the '60s had changed the classical music mainstream. Doesn't matter, in the long run. Change is coming anyway. The 1960s didn't do much for classical music in America, or at least they didn't change the major concert halls. Musicians didn't grow long hair, and the same familiar masterworks went on being played. But outside the mainstream, a classical-music … [Read more...]

Beyond media

A friend of mine in the marketing game -- in the performing arts, but not in classical music -- got called into a meeting. "What's your media strategy?" his bosses asked. And he tells me he answered: "What media?" What he meant ought to be clear enough. Traditional media are fading. Newspapers are slipping away, and also covering the performing arts less, a decline that includes notable cuts in classical music coverage. Network TV has a shrinking audience. And, maybe most important, old media might not do very much for performing arts … [Read more...]