"Classical Glam?"

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Ralph
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"Classical Glam?"

Post by Ralph » Wed Nov 01, 2006 11:52 am

Classical Glam

By jessica werb

Publish Date: 26-Oct-2006

A once-staid scene is marketing its stars with ever-hotter photos, but most programmers agree they need talent to back them up

Robin Lynn Braun is a 27-year-old blond, blue-eyed classically trained musician. If you frequent the Orpheum, you might have noticed her in the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra’s first violin section: she’s the one wearing the black leather pants. Like any other aspiring pro musician, she regularly gets new head shots taken, wears eye-catching ensembles on-stage, and generally works it when she has to. Talent will get you so far, she knows. But today, more than ever in the classical world, marketing will get you farther.

“Being image-conscious and having a bit of sex appeal is going to put you over the top,” she asserts in a call from Toronto, where she has just wrapped up a stint playing for the Canadian Opera Company’s elaborate staging of Richard Wagner’s Ring Cycle. She is hours from heading off to a photo shoot for new publicity material. “There are so many talented people out there, but there’s not the jobs for the talented people, and there’s not the concerts for every talented person. You need to be special. You need to have something that that other person doesn’t have, and maybe it’s looks.”

It was only a matter of time before the PR excesses of the pop world crept into the more staid realm of classical music. Okay, so we haven’t seen anything quite approximating Christina Aguilera’s Dirrty video, but London, Ontario–born violinist Lara St. John sure got tongues wagging—and, in some cases, drooling—when, at age 25, she released her 1995 debut CD, Bach Works for Solo Violin. The album’s cover depicted an adolescent-looking St. John, nude from the waist up, her long hair slightly dishevelled, her violin held to coyly cover her breasts. It was enough to send one local scribe sputtering that St. John looked like a “bedraggled nymphet”. It seems St. John and her management took note. For the cover of her second album, Gypsy, St. John covered up just slightly; she donned a black leather jacket—and very little else.

Which isn’t to say that image hasn’t always played a part in filling concert halls—hard to believe it, but Anne-Sophie Mutter sparked whispers of disapproval way back in the ’80s, when she began playing her Stradivarius in gravity-defying strapless gowns and discussed her passion for fast cars. It’s just that, according to Alan Gove, marketing director for the VSO, slick, sexy marketing is being used to drive classical musicians at earlier and earlier stages in their careers.

“Twenty years ago, this [kind of marketing] never happened in the classical world,” Gove points out. “But it has been, more and more, because things are so competitive.” Adds David Pay, artistic director for the Music on Main series and a consultant on marketing and strategic planning in the arts: “The world has changed dramatically. Donald Trump came to power in the late ’80s, and now we’re all about the buck.”

Getting noticed these days takes a lot more than talent. Braun, who exudes an infectious, hyperactive energy, says she isn’t planning a career as a concert soloist (“That would have happened already”) but she certainly aspires to go beyond being a desk player in an orchestra. In addition to performing in the Ring Cycle, she played on the soundtrack for and appeared in Ann Marie Fleming’s 2006 short film “The French Guy”, and last July she was on-stage with Il Divo, the classical/pop crossover male vocal quartet. This November 24 and 26, she’ll be performing Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, Op.35 with the West Coast Symphony, a local amateur orchestra.

“I want to contribute to classical music in a positive way, in a creative way, in a different way,” she says. “I’m happy doing different stuff, stuff that’s not like the regular classical musician. Symphony is my bread and butter.” And good publicity material, she says, is helping.

It certainly helped Nicola Benedetti, the 19-year-old Scottish violin sensation who will be appearing with the VSO this Saturday through Monday (October 28 to 30). Benedetti, who could accurately be described as a looker, has been given a full-throttle public-relations campaign by Deutsche Grammophon. “She, I think, very smartly realizes, and her people smartly realize, that she lends herself to terrific photo shoots.…I don’t blame her and her label for pushing that forward. Why wouldn’t she?” observes Gove.

For the most part, Benedetti appears to have happily gone along with the marketing blitz. She even recorded a set of ringtones last year—which includes excerpts from Havanaise by Camille Saint-Saëns, Meditation by Jules Massenet, and Contemplation by Johann Sebastian Bach—in the hope of gaining traction in the youth market. But in a telephone interview from Glasgow between concerts, Benedetti made it known that keeping the PR engine humming is not the most thrilling aspect of her job.

“I think all these kind of things which can sometimes be snubbed by classical musicians…is a very small price for me to pay. When I’m doing these things, I’m not thinking ‘Whoop-de-doo, I’m going to have my picture taken.’ To be honest, having my picture taken is not something I enjoy that much.”

Benedetti has stated many times that she will not be going down the path of crossover artists such as ?Vanessa-Mae (the cover art for her 1995 debut album, The Violin Player, had her emerging from the sea in a clinging, wet shirt) and British tabloid fodder Charlotte Church (a classical singer turned pop diva once billed as having “the voice of an angel”). But not everyone has this luxury. “I had a choice of contracts,” admits Benedetti, who clearly has the dream package of talent, looks, and marketability. “I could really sit and take my time and figure out what was best for me.” Other musicians, she says, are not always as fortunate. “People sometimes think the record contract is worth more than their self-worth, than their art and what they believe is actually good.”

But does the marketing work? While no music director likes to admit to booking artists solely on the basis of their looks and packaging, it does happen. “All orchestras like to be able to avoid a loss, and they promote artists who are able to sell tickets,” says Bramwell Tovey, conductor and musical director of the VSO. “We do occasionally promote headliners of dubious quality,” he goes on, then corrects himself. “No, that’s not true. We promote headliners of contemporary interest.…I think five years ago there was quite a crisis and the record companies began to tumble and this kind of phenomenon took over. You should see some of the gumf that I get sent. I probably get sent about a dozen to two dozen leaflets a week from agents, and you wouldn’t believe the talent we’re missing out on, if you believed all the hyperbole.”

Leila Getz, artistic director and founder of the Vancouver Recital Society, says she gets “tons” of unsolicited material. “It just goes straight in the garbage. And sometimes the glitzier the package, the faster it goes in the garbage. I’m always nervous when I see a pretty face.” But, she concedes, if a dazzling musician just happens to come with an equally dazzling physique, she’ll “play it up”.

It’s not just female artists who are being given the glam treatment. Take 23-year-old concert pianists Lang Lang and Yundi Li. They may be lauded as true talents, but Deutsche Grammophon has not been letting their careers rest solely on their musical prowess. They, too, have been branded—Lang Lang as the passionate, fiery extrovert, Li as the contemplative, introspective artist. Lang Lang is hawking Rolex watches; Li is endorsing Nike shoes. “The images that we get for Yundi Li and Lang Lang now are very different than they were a few years ago,” says Gove. “They’re highly stylized, they’re highly posed, they’re very, very ultraprofessional.…Lang Lang has gone out and lost weight, got a completely different haircut and a completely different style of clothing that he wears.” Gone are the images of a pudgy, smiling kid in tight turtlenecks and pleated beige slacks, replaced by fashion shots of a young metrosexual sporting designer duds, carefully tousled hair, and an affected air of casual nonchalance.

Li, who will be appearing with the VSO in April, says in a call from China that he’s only too happy to work with stylists and play with his image. “My image has changed a lot. Even myself, have changed a lot.…Every month or two months I’ll change my hairstyle or see a new style, and I’ll want to change.” For album covers, he says, he joins forces with a stylist in addition to a photographer.

Which is where people like David Pay come in. “We’re in a world where you cannot escape marketing, and if you want classical music to be an integral part of that world, why in God’s name should it have to play by different rules?” he asks. “If you are a great young artist and you have some super-sexy photos, awesome,” he says. But “the marketing should only ever support the art. And when it turns into being about the marketing, that’s the slippery slope.…It’s extraordinarily unfortunate when slick marketing drives people to the concert hall and the concert doesn’t live up to it.”

Ultimately, the audience decides. While the public “sometimes has the wool pulled over their eyes”, as Tovey puts it, only the best can sustain long-term careers. “I do know of one very famous American orchestra this season that opened their season with one of these headliners who’s a world-?famous star who sings with a microphone,” Tovey confides. “The artist said, ‘It’s a great honour to sing with the orchestra.’ And the manager said, ‘You better enjoy it, because it’s the only time you’ll ever come.’?”

Due to the “unplugged” nature of classical music, there simply isn’t a lot of room for error. “At the end of the day, in our industry, you can’t be Paris Hilton,” acknowledges Braun. “As a live classical musician, you can’t get away just on the fact that you are beautiful. If you’re going to show up to an orchestra and play your concerto like crap, it’s going to be obvious.”

Still, Braun is careful to maintain appearances. She wants to craft an image that will be sexy but not provocative. At her upcoming photo shoot, she’ll try three different looks: casual jeans, a formal dress, and a sassy white suit. “If you have poor marketing, your product doesn’t sell,” she declares. “Why do we go to Starbucks instead of Tim Hortons? Because it’s cooler walking down the street with a Starbucks than it is with a ghetto Tim Hortons cup.” -
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Dalibor
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Post by Dalibor » Fri Nov 03, 2006 7:53 pm

I would never go to the concert like that Totaly ridiculous, has nothing to do with classical music

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Post by Lance » Fri Nov 03, 2006 10:47 pm

Dalibor wrote:I would never go to the concert like that Totaly ridiculous, has nothing to do with classical music
Dalibor:

Hmmm ... I'm rather surprised you would take this stand on mere "dress" versus the content of the music itself. It's called contemporary dress ... dress that seems to fit the standards of the world today. The days of always wearing just black—a carry-over from concerts long ago—has gone out the window, down the drain, or what-have-you. Not all orchestral members, but many are wearing colours now. If you close your eyes at the concert and concentrate solely on the music, it wouldn't matter what the players were wearing. It sounds like you have double standards for whatever suits you.
Lance G. Hill
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When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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Post by ch1525 » Fri Nov 03, 2006 11:14 pm

Where are the pictures of her?!?!? :D

CharmNewton
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Post by CharmNewton » Sat Nov 04, 2006 12:05 am

Given the declining birth-rates in Western populations that have traditionally supported classical music, companies have to work even harder to reach younger audiences that they hope will be long term supporters. I think to reach these audiences companies feel compelled to find young stars. These are people that young audiences can identify with.

This sin't anything new, either--just look at old record catalogs. Since there are so many fine, young artists performing today, it's only natural that physical beauty is a plus. There seems to be an implied idea that if a person is beautiful, they cannot be a world-class artist--it's their looks that are being sold.

I say judge with your ears, appreciate the work it took to develop and refine the artistry and enjoy the beauty too. Much of that beauty is the confidence of the artist's success.

John

Opus132
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Re: "Classical Glam?"

Post by Opus132 » Sat Nov 04, 2006 12:11 am

“If you have poor marketing, your product doesn’t sell,” she declares. “Why do we go to Starbucks instead of Tim Hortons? Because it’s cooler walking down the street with a Starbucks than it is with a ghetto Tim Hortons cup.” -
:roll:

Opus132
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Post by Opus132 » Sat Nov 04, 2006 12:25 am

CharmNewton wrote: I say judge with your ears, appreciate the work it took to develop and refine the artistry and enjoy the beauty too. Much of that beauty is the confidence of the artist's success.
Alright, here's a proposition for you. What if there are musicians out there who's artistry transcends any of those so called 'rising stars' of today but that can rarely get a record contract, all due their lack of commercial appeal?

Opus132
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Post by Opus132 » Sat Nov 04, 2006 12:26 am

ch1525 wrote:Where are the pictures of her?!?!? :D
Just google her name. She isn't anything special...

Dalibor
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Post by Dalibor » Sat Nov 04, 2006 12:51 am

I think things like this simply don't work. It's not short skirts that classical music lacks today. It's music itself that can't touch people anymore. The reasons are multiple - the most important is global cultural deterioration, due to population explosion and materialism - but strictly classical-music wise, the reason is unability of contemporary classical music to switch to atmosphere driven instead of traditional emotionaly driven aproach to music

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Post by CharmNewton » Sat Nov 04, 2006 1:38 am

Opus132 wrote:
CharmNewton wrote: I say judge with your ears, appreciate the work it took to develop and refine the artistry and enjoy the beauty too. Much of that beauty is the confidence of the artist's success.
Alright, here's a proposition for you. What if there are musicians out there who's artistry transcends any of those so called 'rising stars' of today but that can rarely get a record contract, all due their lack of commercial appeal?
Do you know of any? Reading the last issue of American Record Guide, I' was very pleasantly surprised to see the number of small independent record labels available, including some owned by the artists themselves.

John

CharmNewton
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Post by CharmNewton » Sat Nov 04, 2006 2:05 am

Dalibor wrote:I think things like this simply don't work. It's not short skirts that classical music lacks today. It's music itself that can't touch people anymore. The reasons are multiple - the most important is global cultural deterioration, due to population explosion and materialism - but strictly classical-music wise, the reason is unability of contemporary classical music to switch to atmosphere driven instead of traditional emotionaly driven aproach to music
Music still touches me, and I've been listening to predominantly "classical" music for over 35 years. But then maybe I'm not a person. :)

I think the lack to appeal of much (not all) contemporary music to audiences lies in its rejection of emotional or spiritual communication. It is sold as a rational art with "interesting ideas" (and are about as moving as traffic noise). Audiences are expected to reach out and understand composers, not expect works they might actually enjoy and be moved by. Sir Thomas Beecham recalled his student days when he and others were very excited to play new works by then contemporary composers, much like youngsters get excited by new releases by their favorite pop artists. People choose to be beautiful or ugly in their approach to art. I'll take beauty.

John

Opus132
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Post by Opus132 » Sat Nov 04, 2006 10:27 am

CharmNewton wrote:I think the lack to appeal of much (not all) contemporary music to audiences lies in its rejection of emotional or spiritual communication. It is sold as a rational art with "interesting ideas" (and are about as moving as traffic noise). Audiences are expected to reach out and understand composers, not expect works they might actually enjoy and be moved by. Sir Thomas Beecham recalled his student days when he and others were very excited to play new works by then contemporary composers, much like youngsters get excited by new releases by their favorite pop artists. People choose to be beautiful or ugly in their approach to art. I'll take beauty.

John
Wrong wrong wrong. People today shun classical music because they think it's old fashioned, soft, overly sentimental and still stuck in a bourgeois elitist environment. Most kids are taught to hate all arts from an early age thanks to overly patronizing schools and the old fashioned institution surrounding them. What's more, very few people even realize there's such a thing as modern composers. 90% of the population simply believes classical died in the 19th century, and that the only new music is film music.

Beauty, emotion, those values are WORTHLESS to modern people. Christ, have you heard the type of music most folks listen to today? Rock, Metal, Rap, shallow pop acts, where's the beauty? Where's the emotion? Do you think anybody who just came back from a death metal concert would care to listen to Chopin? Then again, what if they were told of the inherent complexity, perfection and underlying UGLINESS of his music (remember, he was considered a modernist in his day)?

BTW, have you taken a look at the type of audience that attends concerts of modern composers?

CharmNewton
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Post by CharmNewton » Sat Nov 04, 2006 12:11 pm

Opus132 wrote:
CharmNewton wrote:I think the lack to appeal of much (not all) contemporary music to audiences lies in its rejection of emotional or spiritual communication. It is sold as a rational art with "interesting ideas" (and are about as moving as traffic noise). Audiences are expected to reach out and understand composers, not expect works they might actually enjoy and be moved by. Sir Thomas Beecham recalled his student days when he and others were very excited to play new works by then contemporary composers, much like youngsters get excited by new releases by their favorite pop artists. People choose to be beautiful or ugly in their approach to art. I'll take beauty.

John
Wrong wrong wrong. People today shun classical music because they think it's old fashioned, soft, overly sentimental and still stuck in a bourgeois elitist environment. Most kids are taught to hate all arts from an early age thanks to overly patronizing schools and the old fashioned institution surrounding them. What's more, very few people even realize there's such a thing as modern composers. 90% of the population simply believes classical died in the 19th century, and that the only new music is film music.

Beauty, emotion, those values are WORTHLESS to modern people. Christ, have you heard the type of music most folks listen to today? Rock, Metal, Rap, shallow pop acts, where's the beauty? Where's the emotion? Do you think anybody who just came back from a death metal concert would care to listen to Chopin? Then again, what if they were told of the inherent complexity, perfection and underlying UGLINESS of his music (remember, he was considered a modernist in his day)?

BTW, have you taken a look at the type of audience that attends concerts of modern composers?
I think it's difficult to generalize about the music and other arts when talking about young people. I believe people favor attractiveness over ugliness, but there are certainly a lot of angry people in the U.S. and the rest of the world. I'm not sure that 90% of the population would even know who Chopin was or even recognize his name. However, you can go to Hilary Hahn's web site to see some of the art work sent to her by children (as well as see what an engaging artist she is). On education in general, this subject could easily shift to the other board.

I haven't been to a concert of contemporary music in many years, so I have no idea what type of audience attends these concerts.

This still leaves those who are trying mate classical performing artists with those who want (or may someday want) to listen to them. Large recording companies face hurdles getting the mesage out and being heard. Neville Marriner stated that the movie Amadeus did more for Mozart's music than 200 years of performance. History is filled with many fascinating stories that would (once again) make excellent subjects for film.

It is too easy to denigrate the work of others. When we find a performance to be less than ideal, it's easy to say the artists suck. Perhaps the finished performance just didn't come out as expected, or due to engineering and post-production, what went into the microphones isn't what is being reproduced. Doesn;t mean we have to buy it. It just means it's the product that was bad, not the people.

John

Agnes Selby
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Music

Post by Agnes Selby » Sat Nov 04, 2006 6:58 pm

Classical music was never enjoyed by the masses. It is the same today.

Please let us not underestimate young people. I am, of course, speaking of Australian schools where each high school has its own orchestra.
Sydney Grammar even travels around the world performing at
well known venues. Classical music is doing well in Australian schools.
What kind of music children will enjoy as adults will, of course, be determined by their taste in music. However, I am pleased to report
that contemporary music societies are doing well here as is the Baroque
Ensemble which performs on original instruments.

As for looking glamorous, more power to the artists who care to please.
There is much to be said for a beautiful woman performing beautiful music.

There is a flipside to this coin. I well remember a trio of ladies performing in the Blue Mountains not far from Sydney in the late 1970s. Wearing drab black skirts and tops, these ladies of mature years, sat there with their instruments, without any expression or charm. The music was probably well performed, strictly according to the composers' wishes but all us were bored out of our senses.

Changes to such music making are most welcome.

Regards,
Agnes.
------------------

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Post by Corlyss_D » Sat Nov 04, 2006 7:26 pm

Opus132 wrote:People today shun classical music because they think it's * * * still stuck in a bourgeois elitist environment.
You're making this up, aren't you. Nobody talks like that today except radicalized college students and their Boomer professors. I'll warrant that group don't give a rip for classical music because they don't like the sound of it, not because of their primitive politics. That's just an excuse, not cause.
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Opus132
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Post by Opus132 » Sat Nov 04, 2006 8:01 pm

Corlyss_D wrote: You're making this up, aren't you.
Not at all. Ask any random person what they think of classical music lovers and they'll probably assume we are just a bunch of rich, old elitist pricks, and every time classical music is used in hollywood films within it's rightful context it's always either scenes of 17th century libertine excesses among a bunch of powdered wigs or victorian anglo-saxon bourgeoisie elitism. The anti-intellectual and anti-elistist bias against classical music is almost palpable among the average person. This is particularly true in Europe where threads going as far back as the 19th century still loom heavily in every stratus of society.
Corlyss_D wrote: Nobody talks like that today except radicalized college students and their Boomer professors.
I'm not saying people actually express themselves like that but the basic ideas stands. Let's face it, to most we are nothing but the usual wealthy old farts that go to the opera house, nothing more. The entire apparatus of classical music has nearly completely lost it's cultural identity as a living force among society.
Last edited by Opus132 on Sat Nov 04, 2006 8:22 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Post by Opus132 » Sat Nov 04, 2006 8:21 pm

CharmNewton wrote: I haven't been to a concert of contemporary music in many years, so I have no idea what type of audience attends these concerts.
Being in my 20s i know very well what modern audiences look like, since i interact with them all the time. Let me tell you, to most of them, classical music is a very hard sell. The inherent difficulty and complexity of the medium is of course a problem but that's not the issue. What's really striking here is that whilst the grand majority of people are mostly indifferent to all classical they aren't exactly neutral to it. They never think about it, but once the subject is brought to their attention, you can feel this direct, distinct loathing and in some cases you are likely to face ridicule. As far as my experience dictate, this is unique to classical music and the worst part is that it's inherited given nobody has actually actively listened to a single note from any of the major composers.

Granted, there are exceptions, sometimes from unexpected sources. Metal fans for instance are very keen to classical music, though it's rare to find somebody who actually understands any of it. The irony in this is that whilst metal is a highly emotional and passionate genre (not the least surprisingly melodic) i had much more success with modern composers (due the jarring quality of their music) then say, Mozart. The stigma towards classical can still be felt even here. It reminds me of an argument i had with a friend who just couldn't understand how anybody would listen to that 'supermario' music. He was talking about Domenico Scarlatti, a composer who could swoop the field among metal fans if somebody decided to transcribe the music for electric guitar.

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Elitist Music

Post by Agnes Selby » Sat Nov 04, 2006 9:51 pm

Not at all. Ask any random person what they think of classical music lovers and they'll probably assume we are just a bunch of rich, old elitist pricks, and every time classical music is used in hollywood films within it's rightful context it's always either scenes of 17th century libertine excesses among a bunch of powdered wigs or victorian anglo-saxon bourgeoisie elitism. The anti-intellectual and anti-elistist bias against classical music is almost palpable among the average person. This is particularly true in Europe where threads going as far back as the 19th century still loom heavily in every stratus of society.

-------------

Oh, Dear Me! Opus, surely not in England!!!!!

Way back then, English theatre audiences did not possess the sophistication of their European counterparts. On any given night
it was not unusual for warring factions to invade the stage and do battle there, damaging the scenery as well as their opponents in the process, while a favourite Italian castrato continued to belt out his aria.

This is what Nancy Storace, Mozart's first Susanna, found when she
returned to London from Vienna. The late eighteenth century forefathers of today's English soccer hooligans found English theatres a perfect venue, not only for their battles but also for warmth during the winter months. The King's theatre, although more snobbish than Covent Garden or Drury Lane, did not escape such invasions. The audience when unable
to understand the story line on stage, sung in a foreign language, proceeded to provide its own entertainment. The battling factions on stage received loud encouragement from their supporters in the two-penny gallery.

When members of the Royal family attended a performance, the audience would often turn their backs to the stage in order to watch the Royalty rather than the production. The nobility in turn watched each other, this being part and parcel of the entertainment. Catcalls were frequent and on
wintry nights, coughing and sneezing drowned out even the highest pitched efforts of the diva. The curtains on the boxes were often drawn during the performance while the ladies thus closeted entertained their paramours. Their maids were busy behind the curtains providing tasty morsels to the enamoured couples.

The invading hordes climbed all over the stage causing singers to duck for cover or deal with the invasion in another way:
"The stage of the Opera is so crowded that Madam Rosa, in throwing
her fine muscular arm into a graceful attitude, inadvertently leveled three men of the first quality of a stroke (The Times April 19, 1798).

***DEAR OPUS, SURELY THINGS HAVE IMPROVED BY NOW! :wink:

Agnes, Selby.
--------------------

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Post by Harvested Sorrow » Sat Nov 04, 2006 10:32 pm

Opus132 wrote: Rock, Metal, Rap, shallow pop acts, where's the beauty? Where's the emotion? Do you think anybody who just came back from a death metal concert would care to listen to Chopin?
I've actually listened to Chopin after a death metal concert I attended before. It was a nice change of pace.

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Re: Music

Post by Opus132 » Sat Nov 04, 2006 10:34 pm

Agnes Selby wrote: There is a flipside to this coin. I well remember a trio of ladies performing in the Blue Mountains not far from Sydney in the late 1970s. Wearing drab black skirts and tops, these ladies of mature years, sat there with their instruments, without any expression or charm. The music was probably well performed, strictly according to the composers' wishes but all us were bored out of our senses.
Does not compute. Sorry.

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Post by Opus132 » Sat Nov 04, 2006 10:37 pm

Harvested Sorrow wrote: I've actually listened to Chopin after a death metal concert I attended before. It was a nice change of pace.
Right.

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Post by Modernistfan » Sun Nov 05, 2006 1:14 am

You would have a lot more success with death metal fans and fans of similar pop genres if, instead of Chopin or Mozart, you tried Xenakis, Birtwistle, Rouse, Ruders, Schnittke, or even Shostakovich in his more aggressive moods (try the Fourth Symphony). The problem is that most concerts and radio stations, at least in the United States, stay as far away from such composers and works as is humanly possible. That is one big reason why classical music gets stereotyped as "boring music for half-dead old folks."

I tried for years to get KUSC-FM in Los Angeles to vary their programming to bring in a younger audience, with zilch success. Their basic programming philosophy is not to play anything with harmonies or dynamics that Felix Mendelssohn would have found radical, with very few exceptions. That will not cut it anymore.

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Post by Harvested Sorrow » Sun Nov 05, 2006 7:26 am

Indeed. The most common (successful) introduction to classical for metalheads is Stravinsky's Rite of Spring.

Once that sinks in, they (we?) tend to dive straight into the Beethoven symphonies, though.

Opus132
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Post by Opus132 » Sun Nov 05, 2006 9:59 am

Modernistfan wrote:You would have a lot more success with death metal fans and fans of similar pop genres if, instead of Chopin or Mozart, you tried Xenakis, Birtwistle, Rouse, Ruders, Schnittke, or even Shostakovich in his more aggressive moods (try the Fourth Symphony). The problem is that most concerts and radio stations, at least in the United States, stay as far away from such composers and works as is humanly possible. That is one big reason why classical music gets stereotyped as "boring music for half-dead old folks."

I tried for years to get KUSC-FM in Los Angeles to vary their programming to bring in a younger audience, with zilch success. Their basic programming philosophy is not to play anything with harmonies or dynamics that Felix Mendelssohn would have found radical, with very few exceptions. That will not cut it anymore.
Precisely my point.

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Post by Opus132 » Sun Nov 05, 2006 9:59 am

Harvested Sorrow wrote:Indeed. The most common (successful) introduction to classical for metalheads is Stravinsky's Rite of Spring.

Once that sinks in, they (we?) tend to dive straight into the Beethoven symphonies, though.
Try the Bartok quartets. It worked for me (i was raised as a metal head in my teens). 8)

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Post by Harvested Sorrow » Sun Nov 05, 2006 10:33 am

I love Bartok's quartets, however, I wouldn't necessarily recommend them as a first listening to a metalhead, or for that matter, anyone not familiar with heavily (non-guitar) string based music. Some people just don't get along well with the sound of string quartets. The Bartok quartets were, however, what brought me into the 'world' of string quartets and made them enjoyable (I had no trouble with other chamber music up until this point). On the other hand, for use with a metalhead or a rock fan modernist chamber music IS a good idea since you at least have a similiarity in size of the number of musicians playing the music (four or five) since a symphonic work can be overwhelming at times for someone used to four or five musicians playing at any given time. Hmm....I will try the Bartok quartets next time I'm trying to introduce someone to classical. At a metal board I visit there's usually a "Recommend me stuff as an intro to classical" type thread at least once every few months, so it's worth a try.

If we're going to recommend SQs I think Shostakovich's would also be a great recommendation. They delve into the same emotional realms as a large amount of metal and that 'darkness' is a key factor in gaining someone's interest.

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Post by Corlyss_D » Sun Nov 05, 2006 4:48 pm

Opus132 wrote:Being in my 20s i know
Phew! For a minute you had me going there . . .

You have a lot of interesting ideas but none of them is grounded in sociological research. Norman Lebrecht has been lamenting the demise of classical music for longer than you've been alive, and never has he attributed it to . . . . what did you call it? . . . "bourgeoisie elitism."

The curious thing is that people have been predicting the death of classical music for a good 75 years now, and trying to figure out how to get young people involved. Yet the profile of the classical music lover has remained pretty steady all that time - 40s or older and usually white. Notwithstanding that, over the last 40 years anyway, the number of regional orchestras and the number of students graduated from music degree programs has exploded. In the late 70s I heard an interview with an orchestra official who said that the state of classical music in the nation was such that there were over 100 applicants for every post that comes vacant in an orchestra. I can only imagine what it is now. That would lead one to think that the trick is getting children to love classical music at an early age, feeding that love with music lessons, and letting nature take its course. The Mozart Effect, whether you believe it works or not, has caused a broad dissemination of classical music to infants in an unprecedented scale. In fact, 10 or so years ago, the governor of Georgia got the legislature to fund the distribution of the Mozart Effect cd with every new-born, not to increase attendance at concerts but to improve the babies' chances of producing lots and lots of good synapses. Those kids will most likely grow up loving Mozart, if nothing else, which leads them into classical music generally. I don't really care about getting head-bangers and metal maniacs into the concert halls, via Schnittke, Glass, or Xenakis, as long as the prospects for the rest of classical music remain so encouraging.
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Post by Harvested Sorrow » Sun Nov 05, 2006 5:16 pm

The problem with 'get them while they're young' is that often times the young simply aren't ready for the music and find it boring which leads to an aversion to it later in life. The same thing applies to, say, a lot of the books that are required reading in schools. Great material but people end up getting hit with them before they're ready.

As for not caring about getting metalheads into the concert hall...tsk, tsk! There's nothing wrong with developing a larger audience for classical music by letting people start with modernists and then move back. They don't even have to be played in the concert hall to get this effect, just on disc. Then they start going to the concert hall when they adapt to more standard concert hall fare.

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Post by ichiro » Sun Nov 05, 2006 7:01 pm

I remember going to a Lang Lang concert in may, and he played a chopin concerto. The performance was fine, nothing great, but of course the audience erupts. The marketing campaign, for classical music that is, was huge, but he was way overhyped, as usual. during the break, there was a massive line for autographing a cd of his, that you could buy for 40$. The funny thing is, they played the schubert ninth, which to me is a far greater piece than chopin's PC 1, but no one responded. Lang Lang is a good pianist, but i think he needs maturity to develop into someone like a pollini ir barenboim.

This overhype approach is just contrary to classical music. I think its a difficult sell to teens, because it requires a great level of maturity to come to terms with it. I was 20 when i first started, and even that can be considered young. I think the best way to market classical music is to introduce some pieces you like to your friends, maybe make them a CD of approachable great music. I just think the "glamour" approach to marketing classical will never really work, as you are promoting an image, never the music.

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Music

Post by Agnes Selby » Mon Nov 06, 2006 12:19 am

Harvested Sorrow wrote:The problem with 'get them while they're young' is that often times the young simply aren't ready for the music and find it boring which leads to an aversion to it later in life. The same thing applies to, say, a lot of the books that are required reading in schools. Great material but people end up getting hit with them before they're ready.

As for not caring about getting metalheads into the concert hall...tsk, tsk! There's nothing wrong with developing a larger audience for classical music by letting people start with modernists and then move back. They don't even have to be played in the concert hall to get this effect, just on disc. Then they start going to the concert hall when they adapt to more standard concert hall fare.
----------------

In a small way, I had a most satisfactory experience with young children.

In the late 1970s I wrote a number of stories about a pilot,
a Mr. Flanagan who arrived at our local primary school in his
magic plane. This magic plane, only visible to my class of 9 year olds,
took us back to a number of composers' lives. Among the composers
were Mozart, Beethoven, Bartok and a few other well known composers.

Different children were designated to be co-pilots, stewards and air hostesses. During our trip the children listened to an outline of the
composer's life. We landed just in time to witness and participate in the composer's life as it happened. We listened to Mozart playing the piano for the Empress Maria Teresa, danced to Bartok's Hungarian compositions, admired Beethoven's music and felt sorry for him for being dragged out of bed at night to play for his father. Mr. Flanagan was very real to the children and even to their mothers who often sent cakes to school to please Mr. Flanagan whose wife kept him on a strict diet.
Needless to say, the children ate the cakes as they took their journey into the past.

As time went on, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. allowed me to take the children to orchestra rehearsals. The children also attended
special Youth Concerts performed by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

Today, although not all of "my" 22 children are great music lovers, of that I am sure, but every time I attend a concert, I meet one or two of my "children". Also, I am proud to say that one of "my" children is concertmaster in a German Symphony orchestra and two are
orchestral players.

I believe that an early approach through play is a good way to introduce classical music to children.

I would like to stress that I am not a professional teacher and my work with children was done on a voluntary basis agreed to by the headmistress.

Regards,
Agnes.

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Post by Teresa B » Mon Nov 06, 2006 7:02 am

Great thing you did for those kids, Agnes!

I don't think it's likely you will cause your children to hate classical music by exposing them early. (Maybe if you shove it down their throats ad nauseum!)

I gave my son piano lessons, and encouraged him in all his musical endeavors. As a result, he's now 21, owns three guitars and listens to heavy metal stuff. BUT!! He listens to a LOT of other stuff, and I've caught him listening to classical, too. My prediction--more classical for him in the future.

But then my son is a music lover. My nephew, on the other hand, took piano lessons, and when told to correct a repeated wrong note, seriously replied "What difference does it make?" He is now a successful engineer, and has no clue why people even listen to music.

(My point, and I do have one 8) --there seems to be a definite genetic thing going--so your kid probably won't hate the Classics unless he's predisposed.)

Teresa
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Re: Music

Post by Harvested Sorrow » Mon Nov 06, 2006 5:20 pm

Agnes Selby wrote:
Harvested Sorrow wrote:The problem with 'get them while they're young' is that often times the young simply aren't ready for the music and find it boring which leads to an aversion to it later in life. The same thing applies to, say, a lot of the books that are required reading in schools. Great material but people end up getting hit with them before they're ready.

As for not caring about getting metalheads into the concert hall...tsk, tsk! There's nothing wrong with developing a larger audience for classical music by letting people start with modernists and then move back. They don't even have to be played in the concert hall to get this effect, just on disc. Then they start going to the concert hall when they adapt to more standard concert hall fare.
----------------

In a small way, I had a most satisfactory experience with young children.

In the late 1970s I wrote a number of stories about a pilot,
a Mr. Flanagan who arrived at our local primary school in his
magic plane. This magic plane, only visible to my class of 9 year olds,
took us back to a number of composers' lives. Among the composers
were Mozart, Beethoven, Bartok and a few other well known composers.

Different children were designated to be co-pilots, stewards and air hostesses. During our trip the children listened to an outline of the
composer's life. We landed just in time to witness and participate in the composer's life as it happened. We listened to Mozart playing the piano for the Empress Maria Teresa, danced to Bartok's Hungarian compositions, admired Beethoven's music and felt sorry for him for being dragged out of bed at night to play for his father. Mr. Flanagan was very real to the children and even to their mothers who often sent cakes to school to please Mr. Flanagan whose wife kept him on a strict diet.
Needless to say, the children ate the cakes as they took their journey into the past.

As time went on, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. allowed me to take the children to orchestra rehearsals. The children also attended
special Youth Concerts performed by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

Today, although not all of "my" 22 children are great music lovers, of that I am sure, but every time I attend a concert, I meet one or two of my "children". Also, I am proud to say that one of "my" children is concertmaster in a German Symphony orchestra and two are
orchestral players.

I believe that an early approach through play is a good way to introduce classical music to children.

I would like to stress that I am not a professional teacher and my work with children was done on a voluntary basis agreed to by the headmistress.

Regards,
Agnes.
Wonderful story. I believe I should stress that there is a line between exposing them early and shoving it down their throat, as someone mentioned; I should have mentioned this earlier. The former is wonderful, the latter can have disastrous affects. I've met people who said they DID have an interest in classical, however, years of forced piano lessons killed it. It's all a matter of recognizing when one is doing good and when one is crossing the line.

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Post by Bud » Sun Dec 03, 2006 10:11 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:Yet the profile of the classical music lover has remained pretty steady all that time - 40s or older and usually white. Notwithstanding that, over the last 40 years anyway, the number of regional orchestras and the number of students graduated from music degree programs has exploded. In the late 70s I heard an interview with an orchestra official who said that the state of classical music in the nation was such that there were over 100 applicants for every post that comes vacant in an orchestra.
Hi Corlyss,

Do you have any recommendations of sources where I could find further information about this? These statistics are interesting.

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Post by burnitdown » Wed Dec 06, 2006 6:13 pm

CharmNewton wrote:Given the declining birth-rates in Western populations that have traditionally supported classical music, companies have to work even harder to reach younger audiences that they hope will be long term supporters.
As someone with not insignificant experience in mainstream music, I think this is the wrong course of action. Making classical into the same format as mainstream loses why people go to it: around age 28, dissatisfaction with simpler music of less enduring value.

If anything, the classical industry should junk the junky samplers and get to work on more productions by mainstream artists of classical works. A few Yngwe Malmsteens, Apocalypticas and Trans Siberian Orchestras go a lot further than Aguilerafying starlet musicians.

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