Building a young audience (second part)

Back in the ’90s, I was music editor of Entertainment Weekly, which meant I was plunged into pop music. I had a girlfriend who worked at the magazine, someone with no classical music background, and also without any fancy taste in pop music (which I don’t mean as any kind of criticism). She listened to what everyone else like her listened to. No art rock, no challenging indie bands. 

One Sunday morning, we were at my apartment, and she asked if I’d put on some classical music. So I put on something Baroque, maybe Handel’s Water Music. She listened for a bit, and then asked, “Why isn’t classical music more noir?” Referring, of course, to film noir, the dark, morally ambiguous films of the 1940’s and ’50s that became a touchstone of American culture. So much so, in fact, that “noir” entered our world as a label for anything that shared the films’ sensibility.

I took the Baroque music off and put on the Lulu Suite. “You mean like this?” I asked, as the dark, morally ambiguous 12-tone pieces from Berg’s opera played. “Yes,” she said. “Like that. Why doesn’t more classical music sound like that?”

There are two lessons in the story above. First, atonal music holds no terrors for many people who come to classical music from mainstream culture. They’re used to its sound (from film scores), and, more important, they’re used to its sensibility. They take to it far more readily than the standard classical audience, and — very important — they don’t have to be educated to like it. They don’t first have to be taught to like Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (let’s say), and then take baby steps, one at a time, until they end up liking Berg. It’s so much simpler than that. They hear Berg, they like him.

But that’s the less important lesson. The more important one is that people from mainstream culture — if they’re going to start listening to classical music — might demand atonal sounds. Or, more simply, they might feel something missing if they don’t hear them. For Joanna, my ’90s girlfriend, Berg sounded completely natural, even though, as she would have been the first to say, she had no taste for sophisticated music. (And — unlike the man in this photo, who was working opposite me in a coffeehouse this week — she had no tattoos.) Berg, to her, sounded like he was part of her culture: the noir part, one strand in the web of things that made her world what it was.

Which means that if classical music downplays sounds like this — if, as she encounters it, it’s mostly music of the mellifluous past — then it can’t hold her interest long. In a sense, it excludes her, by claiming to be a universal art form, while giving little space to the culture she lives in.

Because of course there’s more we don’t hear in classical music — or largely don’t hear — than film noir. Think of things that have swept through American culture since the 1940s. The beat generation. The sixties. The entire African-American experience. And, of course, rock & roll. And much more. You could go to an entire season of classical concerts, plus operas, and never feel even a breath of these things. Instead, you listen to Schumann, and read program notes about how close Schumann was to Brahms.

Meanwhile, you go to the theater, and see August Wilson plays, tracing black history through many generations. You see Tom Stoppard’s Rock ‘n’ Roll (as I did on Broadway), which is about (among other things) how important rock was to 1960s Czech dissidents. You go to the Museum of Modern Art, and see a retrospective (including concerts) of the art-rock band Kraftwerk. Or a show about how the art world got close to post-punk bands and hiphop during the ’80s. (A show I especially loved, because I was part of the downtown art scene in New York, where it all happened.)

Or, again at MOMA, you see a Marina Abramović show, in which she sits motionless, for days, while hundreds of people look at her. And also confront nude people, also standing motionless (and, yes, completely naked) for days. While hundreds and hundreds of people walk by them. Just another day at MOMA, a museum that’s one of the important tourist attractions in New York. (Maybe not as much so as the Hard Rock Café, but still — people go there.) Try to find anything like it in classical music.

Or you turn on TV, and on HBO watch The Wire, which for five seasons turned a searing, multiracial light on key American institutions (and how they’re linked) — the police, drug dealing, politics, labor unions, the press.

Or you go to the Whitney Museum in New York, and see a show on the beats, complete with the typewriter Jack Kerouac used to write On the Road, a typewriter altered so he could type on a large roll of paper, pouring out streams of words with no need to stop at the end of a page.

Or you go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art website (as I did, a few years ago), and find three shows being touted — Raphael (classic art), Jeff Koons (contemporary art that’s been compared to soft porn), and a show from the Met’s Costume Institute, tracing the influence of superhero costumes on fashion.  This, in the largest art museum in the US, the one with the largest collection of classic art! (Would the New York Philharmonic do anything similar?)

Here’s what they touted on their website when I went to it last week:

  • Tomás Saraceno, Cloud City: On the Roof [a site-specific installation on the museum’s roof)
  •  Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations [a Costume Institute show, exploring the work of two iconic female fashion designers from the 1930s]
  • The Dawn of Egyptian Art
  • Ellsworth Kelly, Plant Drawings
  • Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition
  • Designing Nature: The Rinpa Aesthetic in Japanese Art

Two contemporary shows (one an installation, rather than art in any older genre), one show about popular culture, three shows about non-western art — and none featuring the visual art equivalent of the meat and potatoes classical repertoire, by which I mean artists like Rembrandt, Degas, Van Gogh, Rodin, Monet, Picasso, Matisse (we all know the names). The Met has these artists, but the new shows it touts add up, taken together, to a very different cultural world, one that’s more current and far more diverse.

All of which is one way to demonstrate how far contemporary culture — high-art culture included — has moved from what we see in the mainstream classical world. And yes, things in classical music are changing. But still the focus is on the past. Or, more to the point, the focus is not on things we’re aroused about now, which means that — for people who aren’t classical music initiates, who don’t already love classical music as it’s long been presented, who’ve heard it’s a great, great art, and come to it with an eager wish to be enlightened, inspired, transfigured, blown away — something is missing.

Unlike Joanna, they may not name what’s not there. They may even not be aware, consciously, that there’s a lack. But their reaction will tell you that classical music hasn’t connected. They’ll think that it’s nice, or even refreshing, something to dip into once in a while. They may even be deeply moved, like the man I met at a party this week, who thought Beethoven’s Ninth was one of the greatest musical experiences he’s ever had, but spent much more time talking to me about Bruce Springsteen.

So they might enjoy a classical concert. But they won’t often go back. They certainly won’t be drawn to go week after week. Their culture is missing.

Next post (this all is taking more time than I thought it would): how we got to this place. And while I don’t want to summarize this just now, I will say one thing. For quite a long time — the first half of the 20th century (very approximately) — it seemed natural to go to classical concerts, and hear old masterworks. That resonated, culturally. Just as, for centuries, educated people learned Latin, an antique language, not natively spoken by anyone, but which still had such cultural resonance that it seemed quite alive. 

During this time, the classical music audience was younger than it is now — no older than the population at large. But then, starting (again approximately) in the 1960s, our culture started to change. Just as, in decades before that, Latin began to drop out of sight. It no longer was something educated people needed to know. So now the standard classical repertoire began to seem like only one part of what ought to have been a larger — much larger — musical world. 

And so the audience aged. And classical music — as focused on the old masterworks — changed from a central part of our culture into a niche taste for (largely) older people. 

Of course that’s simplified. Some younger people are drawn in. And classical music still has some of its long-time glamour, prestige, and money. 

But still it’s retreating. And the contrast between it and the culture around it, joined to the long, slow aging of its audience, tells a story we can’t afford to ignore. 

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Comments

  1. Yvonne says

    I believe there’s truth in these observations; they make intellectual sense. But then I’ll witness something that turns it all on it’s head. Like when Thomas Adès came to my city to conduct in a program that included two Tchaikovsky pieces, a piece of his own (Asyla) and an Australian work. The concert series was one with a very high proportion (around 50%) of people under the age of 20 – a lot of high school students. In that context – and keeping Greg’s observations in mind – you’d expect Asyla to resonate with the younger audience and not so much the Tchaikovsky concerto or ballet suite.

    But here’s what I and friends of mine actually observed: The kids went wild over the concerto. Both the Tchaik pieces, but especially the concerto. But their response to the pieces by living composers headed in the direction of fidgety/lukewarm. It was the *adults* at the concert who really went for Asyla and gave it the enthusiastic response it totally deserved. Go figure, as they say.

    • says

      Yvonne, thanks for this. I’ve seen similar things. And, a little more scientifically, I know that at one major orchestra, where the marketing VP is a friend of mine, younger people who come prefer the old repertoire, and aren’t particularly attracted by new music.

      This, though, is very likely a selection effect. That is, the young people who really do want to go (even more than once) to NY Phil concerts are the ones who like the old music. Because that’s largely what the Philharmonic does.

      But on the other hand, the Philharmonic has had success — in at least one case, explosive success — attracting a completely different audience of younger people when it does new music. And other performances in New York have also drawn younger people, sometimes large crowds of them, to new music. In fact, it’s now a done deal, as we’d say in the US. There’s a young audience in New York that will show up for new classical music, under the right circumstances. And it’s an audience that very definitely won’t come to standard classical performances. And it’s larger than the young audience that does regularly go to the standard concerts.

      I think, in all these discussions, we have to be careful of anecdotal reports. There are plenty of cases of people, unlikely people, being attracted by standard classical fare. That doesn’t mean there are going to be enough such people in the future to sustain classical music in its present form. In the case you cite, I know (knowing you) that you’re reporting with absolute accuracy what happened. But there are many variables to account for, before we can use this experience as even suggestive evidence that young people in general will respond to older music the way the current classical audience does. For instance, maybe the Ades piece wasn’t the right piece for a young audience. Or maybe it wasn’t being played convincingly. I’ve heard orchestras do new pieces, and learn them as the run of performances continued. So that the first performance wasn’t as convincing as later ones are. Of course I don’t know if this applies in your story, but it’s something to think about in general.

      The overall question, in any case, is larger than any one anecdote. What we need to know isn’t whether young people might be attracted to old music. Of course they might. What we need to know is whether the current focus of the classical music world on old music will be sustainable for future audiences, starting with people who are young now. Important, in all this, to remember that the audience once was young, and that it’s almost certainly the larger changes of our culture, and the way they’ve left classical music behind, that has made younger people not interested in classical music, leaving only older people to form the core of the audience. Historically this is an enormous anomaly.

      It’s hard to determine what young people will like, in classical music. You can’t survey them — the ones who don’t go to classical concerts — and get answers that will be more than casually useful, because the people you’ve surveyed will never have seen (in most cases) the kinds of concerts you’ll ask them to evaluate. So for me, the most reliable guide will be an overall look at where our culture is, what kinds of things younger people (or, really, just about anyone under 50) are immersed in, and how well the classical music world stacks up against that. The answer, inescapably for me, is that we don’t stack up well, and that something will be missing for a new audience. Something, I should add, that was never missing in the past.

  2. Andy Buelow says

    But Greg, you did exactly what Yvonne did in using a single anecdote to bolster the point you wanted to make: your story of your girlfriend who responded positively to Berg’s Lulu Suite. I happen to love that piece, but Berg was famously more palatable than the other two members of the Neo-Viennese School. I wonder what your ex’s reaction would have been had you put on some pure atonal or twelve-tone music by Webern or Schoenberg.

    I think your argument — that the standard classical music concert completely bypasses any reference to contemporary culture, and that infusing it with contemporary cultural references would help to attract a younger audience — has merit, but I think we also need to be careful not to over-generalize or over-simplify the solutions.

    • says

      Andy, as I should have said, I’ve seen this anecdote replicated many times. Just to give one notable example: when I was a visiting professor at the University of Minnesota, I taught a course on music and politics. In one class session, I contrasted music by Philip Glass and Milton Babbitt, to get at some of the internal politics of musical composition. There was one group of students who loved the Babbitt pieces I assigned for listening — the students who were most into punk.

      Or something from last year’s Bang on a Can marathon in New York. A piece (I’ve forgotten who wrote it) that was — on its surface at least — a 40-minute assault of noise. I thought it might be too much for the large, nonprofessional audience that throngs to these marathons. But no. People were cheering and whooping. This is a point I’ll make later, but the harmonic language of music today is more dissonant than the standard classical repertoire is. I had that thought very strongly, listening a couple of months ago to a Herbie Hancock track. Nobody in our present culture would find it hard to listen to, but the chords were bristling with notes. The overall dissonance level was quite high. I realized that this is what we’re used to now. Doesn’t mean that we don’t also have music with simpler harmony, but what’s normal for us stretches far into dissonance, into the realm of pure noise. That makes a diet of the standard classical repertoire seem pretty bland. (It certainly does to me, for precisely this reason.)

      Rock songs, by the way, are quite dissonant. We might not think so, because some of them, famously, use just a few diatonic chords. But the instruments used, especially electric guitars, generate such a wild scrum of overtones that the overall effect isn’t — in the pure force of the sound — consonant. Which then means (for example) that Bob Dylan (in one of the “how does it feel” refrains from “Like a Rolling Stone”) can sing tonic harmony over a dominant chord, and then dominant harmony over the tonic chord the dominant resolves to, and it all sounds perfectly natural. Arrange the music for string quartet, and have Dawn Upshaw sing, with her purest, most precise intonation, what Dylan sang, and the results would be ghastly. (Dylan does things like this repeatedly with his harmonic on his early albums.)

      As for Berg and his colleagues, so what? I certainly wasn’t claiming that Joanna would have liked all atonal music. Atonal scores vary, and may be accessible or not for reasons that have nothing to do with their harmony. My point was simply that atonality itself isn’t a barrier to a new audience. I think, in fact, that we in the classical music world (or the sophisticated parts of this) are at fault for thinking that people ought to like Schoenberg and Webern. Webern, no matter what harmony he used, would always be a highly specialized taste, because of his brevity and very spare textures, but mainly because of his very private emotional world.

      Schoenberg, in much of his work, is just plain difficult, in part because his rhythms are clunky, andn (as Berg pointed out, in his famous analysis of the first string quartet) because so many things go on at once. The music can be dense and knotted. And it can also be heavy-handed. In the first movement of the fourth quartet, you get passages of heart-stopping beauty followed by assaults that aren’t well calculated at all.

      And then in some pieces he just goes on too long. The Serenade, for instance, which in any stretch of a couple of minutes is wonderfully engaging. The whole piece, though, is like someone who starts talking to you at a party, and just won’t stop. So, although I have no trouble hearing what’s going on in Schoenberg, I sympathize with anyone, from any part of the musical spectrum, who doesn’t like him. And raise my eyebrows at people from the classical world who, in a well-meaning gesture toward expanding musical horizons, talk as if Schoenberg were as easy to listen to as Schubert. He’s not. He’s a knotty, difficult guy.

      • Hobermehl says

        Not all Schoenberg is “knotty” or “difficult.”

        The Verklärte Nacht and Peleas und Melisande, densely textured, are still quite easy on the ears, especially in light of subsequent harmonic developments across Western music, as is the Second Chamber Symphony. (The first takes some getting used to.) The Pierrot Lunaire is a challenge because it sounds so other-worldly, but it also produces an experience that very few other works, even today, can match. The Piano Concerto neither goes on too long nor is unwieldy; it has a fairly straightforward beauty that, once your ear acclimates, can be quite powerful. The very first unnumbered and first numbered String Quartets are also, despite the harmonic complexity of the second, quite easy to take. And then there are any number of other works, like the A Survivor from Warsaw, Kol Nidre, the Ode to Napoleon, etc., which are not “knotty” or “difficult,” but strikingly beautiful.

        BUT, so what if many of his works are “knotty, difficult”? Most of James Joyce’s fiction is hard going. Most of Faulkner is hard to get through. Most of Herman Melville after the early novels can be a bit of a trial, even a shorter work like Billy Budd, which is written in such rococo fashion you have to read passages several times to get the meaning. Do you think people put down Virginia Woolf, or Wallace Stevens, or TS Eliot, or Eugenio Montale, or Toni Morrison, or any of these other authors who don’t just slot words on a page as if it’s the easiest thing in the world? Let people listen to Schoenberg; my experience has been that classical music fanatics can’t bear the likes of him, but regular people who’ve heard other kinds of music aren’t so horrified by Schoenberg. No, he’s never going to go down like Tchaikovsky–whose music I admire too, and it too has been dismissed by the high priests of classical music, but so what!–but let Schoenberg be Schoenberg, stop trashing his music, and just let people listen to it.

        As for Webern, perhaps you missed it, but Alex Ross had a great post several years ago in which he showed how Webernian a good deal of the transition or lead-in music of the Andy Griffith Show–yes, the Andy Griffith show–was! Anton von Webern, not Carl Maria von Weber, or any other Weber(n)–on the Andy Griffith Show!

        • says

          Hmmm. Was I trashing Schoenberg? I just thought I was giving a critical opinion, of the kind that intelligent scholars, critics, or musicians might normally offer.

          I do think there’s a problem, though, with classical music. Important 20th century artists like Schoenberg have been so marginalized in the field that there’s an urge to defend them uncritically. And then, at the other extreme, an urge to reject them complete. A balanced opinion can be a rarity, in these circles. And apparently can be treated as if it were blasphemy.

          Berg, after all, was the one who said Schoenberg was difficult, in his famous essay “Why Is Schoenberg’s Music Difficult to Understand?” His text for this sermon was the First String Quartet, in D minor, an entirely tonal piece. His point being, of course, that it wasn’t Schoenberg’s atonality that made him difficult, but instead the dense and complex texture of his work.

          I’m not a thoroughgoing fan of the Piano Concerto, though of course most performances are so coarse — starting with the orchestral intonation — that it’s hard to form a proper appreciation of the work. It wasn’t till Hilary Hahn recorded the Violin Concerto that that piece got a performance — of the violin part, at least — that shows what’s in the score, without additions of ugliness. I think S’s 12-tone pieces are in some ways a holding action. He wants to give classical music a structure as firm as the structure of tonal music. But the times were against that. The world was falling apart, and art tended to mirror that. Schoenberg was fighting a rearguard action, and I fear that puts his music to some degree in a straitjacket.

          I should add my thanks for the lecture on difficult art. I didn’t know it needed any defense, least of all to me. Three of my favorite writers are Nabokov, Proust, and Beckett. Not easy.

  3. says

    Greg-

    Almost immediately before our (Quad City Wind Ensemble) final concert of the season, the local symphony announced its own upcoming (2012-13) set of concerts. There was not a single living composer represented among the orchestra’s concerts. On the other hand, our final performance included six living composers from across compositional styles and international boundaries. It’s obvious that one repertoire is a museum of relics while the other is more akin to the MOMA.

    By the way, we had an overly large number of young people at the concert (including my own 11-year-old), all of whom showered us with appreciative applause following every work…Need I say more?

    • says

      Good to know this, Brian. Thanks! And how good that your 11 year-old showered you with compliments! Looking forward to the day my son can do that. (We have a while before that happens. He’s eight months old.)

  4. Paul Lindemeyer says

    “There’s a young audience in New York that will show up for new classical music, under the right circumstances. And it’s an audience that very definitely won’t come to standard classical performances. And it’s larger than the young audience that does regularly go to the standard concerts.”

    The question is how much of that depends on New York – the kind of young folk who come there and the kind of young folk who grow up there, as well as the kinds of music that can exist there. Many could exist nowhere else.

  5. Robert Berger says

    It’s oidd that your former girlfriend would wonder why classical music can’t be more “noir”.
    The very concept of “noir” did not come into existence until well into the 20th century.
    People in Handel’s day could never have even conceived of such an idea . I guess she
    didn’t realize that the Water Music was written to provide entertainment for the Royal barge trip down the Thames of kinf George 1 . The music is meant to be joyous and upbeat .

    • says

      Robert, she meant the totality of classical music, as she encountered it through me and others. She wondered why so much of it came from an era before noir existed, and so little of it came from the current era, and therefore reflected her culture. She understood what you’re saying here.

  6. says

    Sorry to jump in with anecdote as well, but I am no music researcher, just a music lover. I came to classical music relatively late – in college. What lead me there was the alt-classical band Rachel’s (http://rachelsband.com/), which was partly made up of musicians from local indie bands. So at their shows you’d see the indie-rock crowd – piercings, tattoos, etc., listening to new cello, violin & piano music, sometimes directly following a rock set. In other words, they made chamber music cool. From the Rachel’s, I discovered minimalism, from that Philip Glass, et al. and tracing back from there Shostakovich and Debussy and so forth. I’m in my mid 30s now and love classical music, mostly the melancholy variety (I even try to write it!) and looking back I can thank Rachel’s for opening a gateway. I wish a similar experience for other would be classical music lovers out there.

  7. Robert Berger says

    The reason why music from the past is such a big part of classical music is because it has been around for so much longer than the kinds of music most people are familiar with . A huge accumulation of music from the [past exists , unlike Rock,pop or what have you .
    We don’t have any rock music from 200 years ago . But there is no lack of new or recent music , contrary to what so many people claim, and you CAN hear it at concerts by the New York Philharmonic, which has in fact played MORE new music in recent years than most other orchestras . And orchestras everywhere .
    Opera is also still very much a living art form, and plenty of new operas have been premeired all over the globe since 2000 .
    Many commentators on classical music have created a false dichotomy between old and new classical music , making it sound as though there were something “worng ” with tield because music form the past is still popular , as old and new music were mutually exclusive .

    • says

      It’s the proportions that put me off – the centre of gravity is way in the past with the orchestral concert scene. It would be much healthier (in my opinion) to play the occasional old piece in a general focus on current music. Film also has a long history (not as long of course), but we don’t expect to see mostly Charlie Chaplin films at the cinema with the occasional film made in the last 30 years.

      • says

        Thanks, Robert. That’s exactly my point. Classical music is (I think) the only prominent form of art or entertainment that’s so focused on the past. We love the old music, but we’re hurting it by repeating it so much. It’ll sound so fresh when we encounter it in the context of things that are new!

  8. says

    I wonder how much the loss of patronage has created the lack of exposure to new compositions. When orchestras do play a living composer I get to hear one piece, one time. If it is a truly new piece there is no opportunity to get a recording either. With such a paucity of access it is easy to dismiss new music as inconsequential.

    I would love to see orchestras commit to full seasons of living composers – choosing a composer to highlight and playing a piece of hers/his in every concert. By the end of the season, I would have heard 10 to 12 pieces and be more thoroughly acquainted with the composer. Imagine the boost this would give to struggling composers who must now make their living as teachers or in other professions because it is so difficult to get paid for their music. Imagine how audiences might respond to the music when given the chance to hear a living composer’s ‘voice’ often enough to be able to recognize it as we can recognize Bach.

    In many ways, this would relate to how Art Museums curate shows of individual artists and I believe it would have great value in the effort to create a new audience.

  9. Darko Zaric says

    I have one question for Mr Greg, I send message before but I never get the answer .
    We working on music project,and one of our departments is about Classical music.We will provide performing in places where people don’t expect it,(coffe shops,certain outdoor spots)and in same way give to people free choice to enjoy and for first time experiance sound of this kind of music.Our options are limited on nothing more than quintet.My question is:Is this good enough point of supporting Classical music like a form,and building new audience?And we would be grateful for some recommendations of Composers and pieces written for quartet and quintet suitable for this situation.

    • says

      Darko,

      I’m sorry if I didn’t answer when you posted earlier. I think smaller ensembles are an excellent way to introduce people to classical music. An audience can easily feel close to the members of a small group. In the US, chamber groups (string quartets, for instance) have succeeded in rural areas, far from big cities. So I think you should feel encouraged, and continue what you’re doing.

      The repertoire question could have many answers. Are there chamber musicians reading this who could make some suggestions?

      • Darko Zaric says

        Thanks Mr Sandow.We are focused on big cities,because we are in China.I think good representation and honest approach can be successful everywhere,of course with certain adjustments on situation.
        In my first mail(which you didn’t receive),I said that is really positive and encouraged what you doing here(besides all other steps you’re doing),it’s respectable work.
        I hope is not against the rules to share one link here with you,maybe you,Mr Sandow already familiar with work of this man,but for other people who don’t know.

        http://www.ted.com/talks/benjamin_zander_on_music_and_passion.html

    • Lydia Brown says

      Hi, what is your group’s instrumentation? String quartet, woodwind quintet, with or without keyboard? If I know, I think I could help with repertore. Also, will you have a singer?

      • Darko Zaric says

        Hi Lydia,thanks for offering help.We have approach to all kind of musicians ,so any possible combination is In a game.Big focus will be on Quintets,Quartet + fifth instrument,which means,yes with piano.Singer also available but only easy listen pieces.And I would like to know in which smaller groups singer can be included?
        I m not classically trained,I just possess passion for music,so any help is welcome.Also how big scope of pieces written for smaller groups is?Most of composers wrote it or?I hope I don’t asking to much.

        Thank you Lydia

  10. says

    Dear Greg,
    Another thought-provoking post. You draw attention to the changing times, varied interests and preferences in music, and the need for outward perspective in the arts. The increasing complexity in today’s society often makes me think of the rapid technological advancements surging throughout and across the world – communities navigating through a multifaceted, tangled web of communication, creativity, inspiration, challenge, and innovation. When it comes to music and other forms of entertainment, audience attention is pulled between live experience, Internet streaming, mp3 and podcast listening, personal creation, remixing, arranging, texting, Tweeting, blogging, and so much more. How do we pinpoint and satisfy the needs of everyone with such diverse tastes and individual experiences? Even if we offer different “product lines,” how do we maintain them and keep people interested?

    Thank you! I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

    Catherine

    • says

      Good questions, Catherine. I think the answer is a sort of zen answer — we shouldn’t look for answers. Instead, we should try things that occur to us, things that we think will be fun or interesting or informative or revelatory. Or whatever. Which, of course, so many of us are already doing.

      Then we learn from our experience, see what the results of doing various things turn out to be. Of course, as I said, all sorts of things are already being done. So it would be good to have a catalogue of them. And, if possible, some sense of how well they worked. Nothing like this exists!

      So there’s a project for you, or someone else you might know. A catalogue of classical music innovations. I’ve made a very, very partial one, for my students. http://www.gregsandow.com/popclass/NewDirections.pdf But it’s only the faintest beginning.

      Anyhow, that’s my thought. That things are already being done, and have been, for well over a decade. So now we need to collate the results.

      Hope this stream of consciousness response made sense!

      • says

        Thank you, Greg! I think it is important that we develop a willingness to experiment, learn, and grow in a time of change.

        My master’s portfolio actually revolves around identifying classical music innovations!! I am using my capstone project to identify “best practices” in audience engagement with classical music and the symphony orchestra concert experience, particularly among the Millennial generation.

        Thanks for sharing your class materials. I look forward to reading it and to adding to that list with my graduate research! : )

        Catherine

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