Monday, March 19, 2007

Start over? Maybe the future is now

Alex Ross has an arresting quote from Joshua Roman, principal cellist of the Seattle Symphony: "I would love to see the classical-music industry crumble, just absolutely fall to bits. Because I think then we'd have to start over. We'd have to say, well, what is it? What is classical music? Is it this concert hall, is it these tuxedos? No, it's this music. And then we could start over from the beginning, build it up, find people who like the music. Like rock and roll started, like the punk movement started."

I assume that if the industry crumbles, big city orchestras would tend to look more like Cleveland's CityMusic and Cleveland Chamber Symphony, excellent musicians who play part time and need day jobs to live on, rather than groups like the Cleveland Orchestra, which has musicians who can actually make a living with the gig. So I suppose if Greg Sandow is right and the big orchestras are about to die off, folks like Roman are out of a job. On the other hand, as a listener, I very much like the intimate concert experience I get when I go to hear the Cleveland Chamber Symphony play at venues like the Baldwin-Wallace College auditorium. When I go to see the Cleveland Orchestra at Severance Hall, my wife and I can only afford the balcony seats, far away from the performers. Speaking as a listener, if Sandow turns out to be right, I think life would go on. In any event, the kind of grassroots groups Roman seems to be talking about are already here in Cleveland.

2 comments:

Joshua said...

Hi-

Coming from Cleveland myself, I am familiar with groups like CityMusic Cleveland, and I do think they are a vital part of the popularization of Classical Music. I don't actually hope the industry crashes; in the interview that was an "on one hand" quote. The other hand is that the organizations that are now scraping by should look at what can be done, what is being done by some smaller groups, and instead of trying to just make it - try to make it big. Groups like CityMusic are small and will gain plenty of momentum to sustain themselves, but imagine if big orchestras started dabbling in that sort of concert experience as well! Or turning themselves into hybrid organizations which also sent out chamber music groups to house concerts, clubs, regular stages... the Seattle Symphony has begun to do a little of that in a new series across the street from Benaroya at the "Triple Door" club. There are so many creative ways to get out there, WITHOUT taking away the concert experience as we know it. In fact, optimally these extra shows might only bring More people into the Hall where they can see the music that they now know that they like in a different setting than their first exposure.
I agree with your thoughts... one one hand a big crumble would really make us wake up. On the other hand, hopefully we can get the point without the crumble!!

All the best
Joshua Roman

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