Monday, December 25, 2006

Hey Santa (part 2)

OK, so maybe Dec. 25th isn't quite the right day for this post but I figure the big guy was booked up in the toy department.

I remember I did a part 1 last year, so I guess this is becoming an obligation.

What do I want for Christmas this year?

Some way for more people to find
live classical music a relevant, vital part of their lives.

(cue: snores, sound of crickets. OK I admit this is a little abstract, maybe I should have just asked for some Slide-O-Mix Rapid comfort and about 30 slide sprayers since I keep losing mine).
But think:
How many of your regular neighbors have attended any concerts featuring classical musicians?

Every year I see those hopeful young students wishing to pursue a career as a performer.

With what job??
How many performance majors are churned out every year?
How many openings are there in jobs paying over, say, $15,000?

(Gee, Brad, Merry friggin' Christmas, ...Scrooge)

I've seen glimmers of hope ...
  • When I lived in Iowa, the local cable company included, free of charge, a fine arts channel. It ran a bit like on older MTV, playing videos either of live performances or just nature scenes with classical music in the background. Of course Time Warner doesn't bother with it here, no profit I suppose.
  • Watch people react when they hear the music from Lord of The Rings. Not often do you see that kind of strong emotional reaction to orchestral music. Were he alive today, do you suppose Wagner would be doing film scores?
That reminds me of a secondary wish (related to the first): could someone get Peter Jackson and Howard Shore to put together a 30-40 minute montage of scenes from the trilogy with an orchestral score to be performed live and THEN make the whole thing available on rental for a reasonable price. I'm guessing that any orchestra programming this would be pretty much assured of a sell-out crowd (*and* a younger demographic).
  • I bumped into a really good PBS series, Keeping Score, which helps people to become familiar with classical masterpieces.
  • A friend of mine, Phil Rehard, is involved with a new kind of concert series in Buffalo, NY. Patrons are expected to buy a subscription to the entire series (individual event tickets aren't available). If I understand correctly, the artists are contracted in such a way that, if the series doesn't sell enough tickets, they can cancel and not have to pay the artists. I believe it has been a big success (no cancellations) thus providing another venue for great musicians and great live music.
We can sit back on our heels and complain about how all the jobs are drying up or we can find a way to do something.

Reach out, become relevant, or watch our art wither away.