Was It the Iced Coffee?

I just spent the last hour and a half sipping on an iced coffee with a coworker talking shop.  Our shop talk of choice this afternoon was classical music.

Yeah, yeah, I know – classical music is so serious.

Or is it.

I really don’t think it is.  I think it’s passionate.  I think it’s intricate.  I think it kisses your ears and sends them on their way full of lust and excitement.

Serious is not what it is at all.

Walton Arts Center just finished its 3rd season of Artosphere this past June.  I’m pretty sure I’ve talked about it in the past, but it’s a HUGE festival celebrating Arts and Nature that spans over the course of a couple of months.  We have dance, speakers, theater, children’s activities, folk music, pop music and of course, classical.  As with any event (I take that back, some events don’t need any help) there is the constant struggle of how do we reach out to new audiences.

Is a new audience the point of the show?

In the case of Artosphere, it kind of is.  We want the festival to be accessible to the masses.  We want low cost tickets, we want high end entertainment and we want the BEST of the BEST.  The question when it comes to classical is how to we convince people that they want the best of the best.  How do you convince the 25 year old video game illustrator that he/she must come listen to this:

Okay, okay, so that’s easy to get people to come listen to.  But what about getting people to sit and listen to this: 

That isn’t as simple.  In fact, it might take some work.  Heading into this meeting today, I wasn’t sure what I could contribute.  I’m one of those people who used to eat, breathe and sleep classical music… but I’ve strayed.  I’ve strayed so far away that the extent of my classical music enjoyment as of lately has been via soundtrack for a movie or videos I find interesting on YouTube. 

I’ve just… lost interest.

Those words alone are enough to make me turn inside out.  When did this happen?  When did I quit wanting to attend every classical music concert I could get to?  After today’s discussion, I’m quite certain it was after I quit learning about it.  I left the classroom and the music left me.  How did I come to this brilliant conclusion?  It was probably the 70 minutes discussing how it’s education that will bring the masses in.  I’m not talking about high end, text book, put you to sleep education.  I’m talking about real, honest, and meaningful discussions about the music.

What made that composer tick?

Which piece’s debut had the audience rioting out into the Parisian streets?

Which composer had a thing for his bassoon student and therefor wrote more bassoon music than is ever necessary?  (It was Vivaldi, by the way, I’ll give you that one).

These points are interesting.  The answers might intrigue you.  At least, our hope is that it turns someone else back on in the way that just talking about them turned me on.  We didn’t just talk education, we talked about intrigue, about drum beats and about new communities.  The conversation was fulfilling.

This conversation was exactly what I needed on this Monday.  I might also say with confidence that the iced coffee wasn’t too far from necessary either.

4 thoughts on “Was It the Iced Coffee?

  1. Oh, you need to talk to Michael, Alix's brother. He just finished his degree, and he is working on becoming a conductor. You shoulda seen his conducting recital!I'm going to send him a link to this post. He's got all kinds of ideas on generating interest in classical music. It's sort of his life-purpose.

  2. I like people with that life-purpose. I left college with a degree in music with the intention to return one day to get my masters in Music History and eventually do doctoral work in the same area emphasizing on the music of Central/Latin America. Not sure where that dream went. I wanted to help the masses fall in love with music, not just enjoy it.Sometimes that person comes out every now and then. I think she's still there, she's just busy.

  3. I've always thought of classical music as something sophisticated, but I know there are parts that are cool and casual too… always fun to explore new sounds. And speaking of amazing composers, I recently found a local musician I shared on my blog today… hope you'll find him equally interesting. 🙂

  4. I'll have to go check out the musician. I think classical is certainly sophisticated, but it's that perception that turn people off. Some people are so afraid to go to a live classical concert because they feel they can't react to the music. Classical music is an art form just like any other art form, you can react, you can move, if you want to clap when you aren't "supposed to" DO IT!

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