NEWS & VIEWS

The big challenge

We artists tend to be gloomy, as if the world were coming to an end. But I find that a lot of the dramatic changes in the world today are pretty interesting. They offer opportunities.

The prototypical classical music audience member is middle-aged and in the mid- to upper-income bracket. That is the bedrock audience, one that we would be foolish to ignore. But there are so many others out there, and we would be equally foolish not to try to attract them.

We can be much more creative in concert presenting. I’m not advocating throwing out the traditional concert, but a lot of ensembles have experimented with format, length of program, dress, lighting, video, spoken explanation from the stage -- none of this is new. It is vitally important for this trend to continue and I’d like to be part of it.

The way music is transferred from person to person now is extraordinary. Classical musicians should join in the fun. Young pop groups have become enormously successful simply by word of mouth -- friends saying, “Download this song” or “Watch this video on youtube.” These groups may not achieve instant success, but this sort of communication was simply not previously possible. Before, to be heard at all, you needed the backing of a big, corporate record company or high-powered agent. Now, you don’t, and that means the creative -- as opposed to the public-relations -- quotient can be higher. That can be nothing but positive.