In case you missed it, there’s a buzz in the air about the future of classical music. What can we do to get more people out to concerts? Are we “beating a dead horse” by insisting that our children take traditional piano lessons? Does anyone really want to hear me play that (Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, Schubert…) piece when they could download Horowitz’s performance?
Alex Ross (The Rest is Noise) spoke at Wigmore Hall this week for the annual Royal Philharmonic Society lecture. This appeared in the Gramaphone article
As for solutions, Ross was keen to emphasise that he hadn’t arrived at the Wigmore with a set of prescriptions. However, he did make two suggestions. Interestingly, neither was linked to clapping. The first was that the invisible wall between the performer and the audience needed to be broken down, and that the way to do that is for the performers to talk to their audiences. His second suggestion was for the concert hall lights to be dimmed, in order to encourage the audience to focus on the stage rather than on their programme notes or other distractions. He also suggested that, were we to axe the rules, we would by no means descend into chaos; instead, audiences would simply work out what felt right, and most of the time they would be.
I’m happy to say our recent Theremin & Rubberball Piano performance was a good example of breaking down that wall . We performed part of the program by candlelight and there was plenty of informal give and take with the audience members. I’m looking forward to more ‘relaxed’ performances at The Music Studio, such as this Jazz Salon with Dave Leonhardt coming up on March 19th.
But this is just the tip of the iceberg. Every day I’m reading about creative and talented new performers, fresh new ideas, and timely marketing advice for classical musicians. Stay tuned, as upcoming posts will feature more pianists that are taking their performances in new directions.