The culture keeps running away

Or, rather, the classical music world — over the past generations — has kept running away from our culture.

Now presenting the second part of my riff on chapter three of my book, Rebirth: The Future of Classical Music. You can download it here. Find the first part here, and the very long complete riff — both parts together — here. There’s also a page with links to everything I’ve posted from the book.

And so the book proceeds — more slowly, as I said in my last blog post about it, than I would have liked. I’m going to pick up the pace. And, as I said, have the entire book riffed by summer.

In many ways, this book is a cooperative effort. When finally it’s published, the acknowledgment list could be very, very long. I’ve been helped beyond measure by so many readers — with comments, criticisms, reminders of things I’ve left out, corrections of things I’ve gotten wrong, new ideas I’d never have thought of by myself, and so much more. Including, so crucially, information about new initiatives — solutions — being tried in many places, things I’d never have known about if someone hadn’t told me.

 “Crowdsourcing,” it’s called. And it works.

I’d like to extend the collaboration. The book, I’m finding, has been very helpful (along with my blog) to many of you who are trying to solve the same problems I am, and that so many people all over the world are — the problems of classical music’s future. I feel like I’ve been a catalyst in some ways, someone who, in an increasingly public way, talks about things that many people are thinking and talking about, but which didn’t have any particular public focus.

I know that my presence, saying what I say, has been encouraging to people, which warms my heart, and has also changed me. When I started this blog, I think I had an old-media idea of it, in which i and my ideas confront the world. But now I see the blog as more of a collaboration, and that’s one big reason I’ve switched my emphasis from criticism to solutions.

Which then brings me to things you might do, if you support what I’m doing, and especially if you support my book. Send money! No, I’m joking for the moment, though I may well do some fundraising for myself in the future. I’m not making any money from the book or the blog (or from some other, more private, but in some ways similar projects), and while these things have led me toward paying work, I still do vast amounts that I’m not paid for.

And yes, now I’m boosting myself here, rather than solutions for the field. But there’s a familiar paradox at work, one many of us can ruefully recognize. I — or you — can spend a lot of time helping other people, and then realize, sometimes with a shock, that we ourselves could use some help, and that there’s no shame in asking for it.

So here are preliminary thoughts of what you might do, if you support my book (apart from sending comments and critiques):

  • You can subscribe  to the book. Which means you get everything I post about it — including the full text of all riffs, and eventual final text of the book — directly by email. There’s no obligation, the subscription list is entirely private, and you can opt out at any time. To subscribe, email me with the word “subscribe” in the subject line.
  • Pass my riffs on to others. All my book riffs have copyright notices at the end, in which you’re specifically allowed (I should change the wording, so it says “encouraged”) to distribute the riffs on your own, as long as you don’t change anything and give me full credit. Send them to your friends, your colleagues, your networks.
  • Tweet about what I’m doing. Support it on Facebook. Create a Facebook fan page. I’ll do that myself, of course, at some point, but I’ll hardly object if someone else does it first.
  • Invite me to speak about my work. Which often means — because I pass on many reports about what many people are doing — that I might speak about your work, too. But I’ve always done a lot of public and private speaking, and I enjoy it more than ever now, because of the collaborative approach I’m trying to take.

About speaking gigs.

A couple of weeks ago I was at the Yale School of Music for three days (a lot of that was private speaking, with students and others, but I also did a session that was streamed on the Web). And the week after next I’ll be doing workshop session on the future of classical music for the Cultural Policy Center at the University of Chicago. Often I get paid for these things, sometimes I’m happy to do them without pay, and I’m interested in doing more of them.

I’m available, too, for residencies, which have included joint residencies with my wife, Anne Midgette, the chief classical music critic for the Washington Post. And I can also consult on particular projects, which have included technology questions (though really the point isn’t the technology itself, but the new culture it creates), and — most interesting to me — the ways that classical musicians can find their own audiences, which can include new audiences, made up of people who haven’t paid much attention to classical music before.

Often the solutions for specific problems are more interesting than grand overviews of what’s going on. And in fact they inform the grand overviews, which would be, in my view, pretty hollow, if they weren’t build on reality.

But enough of that for now. I’m available. Use me!

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