Saving Classical Music, which is what exactly?

Ever since the Music Council of Australia-hosted Classical Music Futures Summit held in July (and in all honesty probably since I was in high school in the early 1980s) I’ve been thinking about this issue of ‘saving’ classical music from its uncertain futures, rescuing this immense tradition from unthinkable oblivion and unthinking ennui. And in all of my nearly 30 years of thinking about it, this notion of salvation has bothered me immensely. It’s the anti-evangelist in me, without doubt, but it seems to me that salvation is always transitory, conditional and even illusory. And the idea that salvation can be imposed upon a thing really only makes sense if the thing is a building about to be demolished, or a person on death row. But let’s suspend our disbelief for a moment and accept that salvation can be offered, proffered and successfully accepted when we apply it to the entire field of classical music. What is it exactly that

read more Saving Classical Music, which is what exactly?

Something to Report After All: Classical Music Futures Summit

Turns out the Music Council of Australia have been hard at work facilitating participants of the Classical Music Futures Summit contributing to the final reports from the breakout discussion groups, a Steering Committee has been assembled, and the first meeting of this committee has already taken place. Which is a whole lot more than my nothing to report blog from a few days ago. I had nothing to report because my email address hadn’t been included somewhere along the way, so the loop didn’t have me in it. The wonderful @JohnofOz (that’s his twitter name, if you meet him at a concert he’s John Garran) had asked me if this was #justanothertalkfest, but it seems it was certainly not that, but rather #justanotheradminbungle. Since the steering committee have met just a few days ago I imagine there will be communications forthcoming in the next few weeks, and hopefully some interesting moves to create a better future for ‘classical’ music. One

read more Something to Report After All: Classical Music Futures Summit

Classical Music Futures Summit: a Month Later: Nothing to Report

It was July 12 that the Classical Music Futures Summit was held at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, with participants ranging from private music teachers through to composers to arts marketers to radio broadcasters to artistic administrators to university deans to … bloggers! Nearly everyone there was not simply one of these things, so there was a considerable sense of understanding across the sector, no real sense of divide between participants. Everyone seemed to be in agreement that “classical” music has a niche audience that is shrinking. Inside that niche there have been success stories, but this against a backdrop of perceived dumbing-down and increased pressure to find sources other than subsidies to keep budgets balanced. Everyone seemed to be in agreement that a cooperative approach to making a cultural shift (and to securing an improved future for classical music) was preferable to an ad hoc approach. I reported that at the conclusion of the day it had been decided

read more Classical Music Futures Summit: a Month Later: Nothing to Report

More Classical Music Futures Summit Themes

Worried that I might forget some of the themes and issues emanating from the Classical Music Futures Summit, and with the likelihood I won’t get to flesh them all out in my blog before Christmas, here’s a little summary of the blogs I’d still like to write on this: Music Education Will Not Save Classical Music: explaining why this recurrent notion, that teaching classical music in the schools of the nation is the foundational means of saving the classical music industry, needs to be taken out the back of the shed and put down. It’s a Lame, Tame Game: in which I will exhort classical music presenters to lift their game, stop being so tame and give up being lame, and then go on to say the same thing to musicians and composers as well; productions without any production are tedious beyond belief, and it’s not sufficient to think that it’s all about the music. Collaborators Inc: an emerging theme

read more More Classical Music Futures Summit Themes

Classical Music Futures Summit Discussion Groups

Part 3 of my blogs about the Classical Music Futures Summit held at the Sydney Conservatorium on July 12. There were eight discussion groups into which the participants were divided, each group with designated topic covering six main areas, which were: 1. Advancing the Repertoire 2. Advocacy and Research 3. Audience Building 4. Community and Regional 5. Education (subdivided into School & Community and Professional & Studio) 6. Media When I arrived at the front desk at the start of the summit we discovered that I had not been assigned a group, so I was left with the opportunity to self-assign. Those who know the bulk of the work that I do would have assumed that my natural home would have been with the Education (Professional & Studio) mob, seeing as I do much professional development with piano teachers and I certainly do know the challenges they face in a variety of places in Australia – I’ve been lucky enough

read more Classical Music Futures Summit Discussion Groups

Ban the word “Classical”

Part 2 of my report on the Classical Music Futures Summit. Greg Sandow, our keynote speaker, touched on this idea in his speech, and it resonated throughout the day from a number of participants: Ban the word ‘classical’ from advocacy, advertising and conversation when referring to what we are talking about. Whenever this point was made a murmur of support rippled through the crowd. The past 15 years has seen a rash of books published querying and exploring the value of “Classical Music”, with titles along the lines of Who Needs Classical Music (Julian Johnson, OUP, 2002) and Why Classical Music Still Matters (Lawrence Kramer, University of California Press, 2007) as well as Who Killed Classical Music (Norman Lebrecht, Birch Lane Press, 1997). Greg Sandow’s forthcoming book Rebirth carries the subtitle The Future of Classical Music, and Alex Ross (of The Rest is Noise¬†fame) has spoken widely about the death of classical music. In short, there has been much writing

read more Ban the word “Classical”

Classical Music Futures Summit: Quick Points

I spent today (July 12) at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music at an event importantly titled the Classical Music Futures Summit, having scored a lucky last-minute invitation to be part of the talkfest. So lately invited was I (somewhere between 6 and 2 weeks ago, depending on how you interpret the invitation) that the sheet listing the participants, explaining who they worked with/for, what they did/had done, along with their email addresses, didn’t include me. Which was fine – I’m very well-accustomed to people asking me who on earth I am. This was my first experience at an event run by a professional facilitator, and I’ve come away from the day with a sense of awe at the quick-witted skillfulness displayed throughout the event, quickly sifting ideas into themes, managing the time-ego tug-of-war, and working to deliver both forward momentum and a sense of ownership to the participants. Truly inspiring work. I’ve also come away from the day thrilled to

read more Classical Music Futures Summit: Quick Points