I think when we talk about classical music in forums such as these, it’s most often “big picture” stuff: the future of orchestras – is classical music dead – how do we change etc.
But for me it seems that what moves things forward are specific moments, and points of contact with the art itself. I collected a few I experienced from the past few months. I don’t think it’s business as usual out there, at least where I’m traveling.
Here they are:
A young clarinetist tries to tell a large audience what it feels like to be an outsider. Short of breath, he almost gives in to nerves and panic. Then he takes a deep breath, and just plays.
A famous orchestra drives into the suburbs in search of new a audience, and finds one.
A violinist creates an 80 minute program of Beethoven and Cage, interspersed with narratives about communication, blindness, and deafness.
An audience of 4th to 8th graders learns that Stalin killed millions of people. They listen to Shostakovich differently.
A stage director learns to let the music speak for itself. “We need to pull back and give the music space to be what it is,” he says.
An audience cheers when the orchestra reaches C Major in the fourth movement of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.
A harp string spontaneously snaps during ppp cluster chords in a Henry Cowell orchestra piece.
An orchestra presents a concert about music and quantum physics while the city hosts an NRA convention with 75,000 attendees.
A Canadian immigration officer learns that symphony tickets are actually affordable.
Two orchestras premiere a piece on the same weekend. The composer hops on a plane and gets to hear both performances.
A young CEO gets excited about supporting an orchestra’s education projects. He grew up in a steel town and listened to his father’s 78’s of Enrico Caruso. His life changed.