Where are we going with Classical music?

March 31, 2008 at 01:10 AM · Several classical radio stations I know of are thinking of changing formats. As mentioned in another thread one is in Vancouver and another one closer to my home in the Midwest, but that's is just a far off rumor right now. I think, unfortunately, that possibly going to a different format, if that is what they're thinking, is correct financially. Middle of the road, pops, country, rock, outsells classical music commercially and they would do better on the bottom line getting away from classical. That does not mean I approve, just what the real world in North America is like right now. Ask any teenager on the street if they would rather go see a classical concert or one of the current rock stars. Now, with that said, how do we make inroads in getting the youth back to accepting our kind of quality music?

We have a "stuffy" reputation. Boring even. I'm NOT saying it is, just what the perception is. How do we change that attitude on the street? It almost seems like we're playing for a diehard group of classical music lovers and each other while the rest of the world is going elswhere. I do not like saying that, but that is what's happening.

Have you seen the "classical" string quartet "Bond?" They are all female conservatory graduates playing classical music, BUT, it's jazzed up. They also don't wear much clothing while performing either. They are a huge success. Say all you want against that genre, but they have platinum DVD's out.

Hanna Montana, a child, has people fighting and parents selling their souls to get tickets for their kids. She does not embrace a "sexy" personality like "Bond" to sell her concerts, it's clean, but the venues are packed to the rafters. What does a child have that we do not? We need to find out and learn from her.

In order to change something and go somewhere you have to find out just where you're at. Some orchestras are cutting way back, others are failing and a select few are doing well, the rest kind of fall in the middle.

Let's not shoot the messenger, lets find a way to turn this around.

What is the future? I don't know, but I'm worried.

Replies (103)

March 31, 2008 at 01:13 AM · It's a tricky thing.

Nowadays, everyone on the street assumes that unless you have a teacher and start at the age of 3 you won't go anywhere in "classical" music.

There is also this notion of "talent" that you either have (good-you're a star to be) or the other 99% don't (and you're wasting your time).

As far as classical music goes-it needs to get back to the attitude that "anyone can do it" and is fun to do, the tradition of chamber and amateur music would help.

I actually spoke with a local elementary music teacher at a concert I did at his school-and he has had students lately that had NO musical experience. NONE. Nada. Not even listening to the radio or singing at church. These are mid/upper income families too. How does someone come to be raised in a home like that?

Another slice of the problem-is that people have gotten to the point where they are expected to only have the attention span of a goldfish-FEW pop tunes of the last 50 years have been over 5 minutes.

Also, in the US anyway-there is the pre-occupation with moving little green pieces of paper around-and spending all your time doing so in order to eat and have a roof-with little spare time/energy for something like a musical instrument.

However-the ENTIRE music industry is in trouble right now from the top down.

With people no longer willing to buy a whole $20 to get the "only good song" on the CD, and people just grabbing music peer to peer or what have you, and expecting music for free-the music industry is in the spot of having a 70 year old business model that is clearly outdated and silly. Combine that with ALL the great artists of the last 50 or so years having all their great hits recorded-newer pop artists are having a VERY stiff competition with the greats of the past. From the attitude of the consumer-why by into something new and incomparable with the greats of the past, whilst the greats are still in print?

The whole thing is a mess right now.

People seem to in general have this expectation and desire of instant gratification. Example: "Guitar Hero". I've never played that "game" but I've seen PLENTY of people look really silly who do....the game requires no finesse, no control, and can be mastered in the space of an afternoon. Why not instead of relying on the game console-do they not pick up a guitar instead and learn the real thing? That is what I don't get. Is it nowadays too hard to do the real thing for the average person with their average attention span and average will-power? Is it that they don't have the spectacle to immerse themselves in? Is it that they don't have a "band" to play along with?

Ya got me.

March 31, 2008 at 12:20 PM · The answer is simple. I believe it is a religious problem. Modern man/woman/child has been short-changed. We are living in a bizarre system that tells us to be happy with rubbish. Most people buy the story, and don't know it's rubbish.

Rubbish philosophy, rubbish world outlook, rubbish meaning. Dodgy low quality vision of what man and the world is. Man is an organism that evolved by chance. Richard Dawkins, and other top gurus, tell us that our existence is pitilessly meaningless. We are pond scum with attitude, but the attitude won't do us any good. We are ridiculous phenomena, mere items of space junk, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. We are a flash in the pan of geological time. Our arrogance is the final absurdity to gurus like Dawkins.

Man (and Woman and Child) is made in the image of God. Until people realise that, they will buy and try to enjoy any kind of rubbish they find. Or at least they will be more susceptible to being 'had' by junk art. Even religious people have been short-changed, and are living within a real crisis. Many Christians these days listen to junk music. They've bought into a junk system. They've become artistically bankrupt. The boat has already sunk below the critical point and they don't know it. A real crisis for the classical music world is the crisis amongst the faithful. Where is their art?

Two movies come to mind, as allegorical views of this bankrupt society: 'Eraserhead' - the head of the family comes home with a cooked chicken to feed his family. "Big as a fist!!" he proudly tells them. 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang' (watched this recently) - the denizens of "Vulgaria" are not aware that they live within a cheapjack system. Their traditional dance is a bizarre and horrible affair, in which men and women try to hit out at each other at critical points in the dance. They are all unhappy.

A greatly diminished number of people, proportionately speaking, know what good art is these days, and can enjoy it. They may be people of some kind of 'churchey' faith or they may not. But they all are a great minority. Art, to the masses, is now too elite, too difficult, too everything. They don't know how accessible it is. They are bankrupt, and the 'elite' artists often encourage this bankrupt situation. Hence the discussion of teachers who say this and that can't be done. You have to start at 3 and have just the right sort of teacher, etc etc ad absurdum. Classical music is cut off from the natural man (and woman, and child). A healthy society, be it a world society, or a small village hidden away somewhere up in the mountains, has a healthy dose of real art flowing through its veins. You can see this from archaeology. Good, and great, art was once a normal aspect of human life.

That's my take on it. Baroque, classical and early romantic music was written by people of faith (so were all those thousands of years of folk songs and dances that preceded this). Later artists, by the time of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, were sometimes less strong in their feelings for God than earlier artists. These later musicians stood upon the shoulders of giants, their artistic forebears, and were inspired by them.

And then in the midst of the 20th century came a popular, widespread crisis of faith in the west. Man gave up believing in something truly good that was higher than himself. Then art began to wither, and spin in aimless, flightless circles, though good artists still remained here and there. Their numbers gradually fell away as the century progressed. What we now call classical music suffered a decline. Read the memoirs of the greats - let them tell you about it. Cage and the postmodernists were artistically weak navel gazers.

March 31, 2008 at 02:10 AM · Classical music was written by people of faith. Cage and people like him were artistic wankers.


Tell that to Beethoven ;>)

He probably wouldn't listen though, he'd just tell you to practice more.

March 31, 2008 at 02:33 AM · Jon,

Sorry I must take issue with several of your points. The first is that "classical music"--what ever that actually is defined to be, is not tied exclusively to religious faith. Much of it was. But more of it wasn't. In fact, religion is not the dominant force behind music of either the 18th or 19th centuries. The music of the 19th century was inspired by many more forces: the concept of the struggling individual and artist as hero; nature and the supernatural; unconstrained emotionalism; a sense of yearning.

Religious faith will not "save" either classical music or our livelihoods.

The second is your evident disgust for Richard Dawkins and his ilk: us atheists. Yes, I do believe that evolution and a fair amount of luck has shaped our own existence. I don't accept some divine plan for any of us as individuals or as a race.

I do take issue with Dawkins' fervent anti-religiosity. Like many atheists, I don't begrudge others their religion, and I think he goes overboard. HOWEVER--having read much of the literature on evolutionary theory, probably much more than those that deny evolution, I can tell you that Dawkins' command of the current state of evolutionary theory is unsurpassed. He simply know more and can explain more about it than anyone else out there.

Your belief that good music was once part of the normal person's existence is simply wrong: I doubt there was ever a time in human history when most people were interested in fine anything. Western Art Music was always the domain of the educated elite and the avante-garde. The average European living in the last 4 hundred years either didn't regularly listen to music, or heard popular ditties or street musicians. They neither knew nor cared about Beethoven.

March 31, 2008 at 02:28 AM · My religion aside I'm not comfortable attributing the demise of classical music to a lack of spiritual faith. Let's leave Cage out of this thread because it's hard to believe that he has also brought on the demise of music.

Classical music is not perceived as stuffy... it IS stuffy. Maybe some of us are able to attend a concert with excitement but for most people the thought of if fills them with dread and stress. Why? Because they have to follow social rules of decorum like not clapping between movements when they may not even know what a movement is. Why would people want to go somewhere where they feel too guilty to cough? I think the formality of classical music is not as appealing as we'd like to think it is "oh let's get dressed up and go to the opera!"

There's only one way to fix this and that's to expose children to music. Music Education in this country is pathetic so what do you expect.

March 31, 2008 at 09:18 AM · Ah, but Beethoven was a man of faith. He believed in God, the whole time. At the end, he admitted to faith in Jesus.

Religion will not save art and music. Faith will. There's a big difference.

Large scale evolution theory, in the sense of fish evolving into lizards, land mammals into whales, dinosaurs into birds, or small rodents into apes, and apes into humans, is both scientifically and philosophically bankrupt too. The scientific evidence for it is APPALLINGLY bad. For a start, there's nothing there in the fossil record. Not a cracker. And geneticists know that mutation and biological adaptation involves loss of pre-existing information. There is no gain of information. The new knowledge that will destroy Darwinist theory is our growing understanding of information.

The tragedy of atheism is its blindness in the one arena it cares most about, and trumpets as its most dearly beloved possession: the material world. The problems of the modern world are due to this. But I can't save you, or the world, and I've said my bit. All the best to you atheists. And to all you churchey religious types too.

March 31, 2008 at 02:40 AM · Marina,

Classical music isn't stuffy--unless it's played stuffy. And you can expose children to classical music, but if it's not part of their parent's culture, forget it.


I don't understand what Beethoven's personal religious beliefs have to do with anything, or why they're proof of anything.

March 31, 2008 at 02:42 AM · Jon,

There was trashy cliché music back in the 1500s too.

Back then they were singing about all the topics we still do today. Funny, you'd think ballads on the the topic of getting dumped by cold-hearted Mary Jane would have gotten tiresome-but it is what people want to hear, 500 years later.

It doesn't take religious values or "faith" to make good music-as proven by all the popular garbage today---it takes time, effort, training, and taste.

Few people are willing to invest themselves in such endeavours, in the US anyway.

You want to blame it on us agnostic/athiest types fine-but we're just as capable as writing poor music as anyone else is.

March 31, 2008 at 02:49 AM · I think that in the end, there's nothing inherently wrong with classical music. There real problem is the same as that faced by every entertainment form: There are too many choices that have splintered the market for entertainment. Sports. The internet. Hi-def tv. All of these options have taken from the other--the pie for entertainment dollars and time is only so big.

March 31, 2008 at 02:53 AM · Scott, I know classical music is not stuffy, but the experience of going to a concert is stuffy. I don't think that's even debatable unless you can point out how it isn't stuffy.

March 31, 2008 at 03:33 AM · I agree with you guys. Yes, there was always trash. Sure.

And going to Church on Sunday doesn't necessarily make the world a better place. And Beethoven believing in God doesn't necessarily mean much for his art....maybe.

What I'm talking about is a damn subtle thing - like the effects of a very slight increase in phthalate concentrations in the environment over a number of years. Very subtle. But, if you're looking for answers, well, phthalates ARE having an effect on frog populations. It's all scientific, and practical, in the end.

Also, if you read what I wrote above, I don't think it is right and fair to say that I'm "wrong". I point out that great art can be something that can be found anywhere. Art does not have to be fine to be great. What does fine mean anyway? That is an arbitrary sort of judgement to make. Village art, rather rough you might say, can be great art. Art is art, whether it's Beethoven or some sort of very creative fiddle tune from the remote mountains in the north. I think there is a fair bit of archaeological evidence to back up my claim that healthy societies that believe in a higher good have a vibrant art culture.

Look at those cultures that do not believe in a higher good. That believe in negative things. These cultures have unpleasant art and do not last long.

What could be more unpleasant than being a meaningless pond slime that evolved within an uncaring, pitiless universe that is silent? Well, if you can stand tall after that then you are made of different stuff than me.

March 31, 2008 at 03:08 AM · Scott, I know classical music is not stuffy, but the experience of going to a concert is stuffy. I don't think that's even debatable unless you can point out how it isn't stuffy.


It isn't only stuffy, it tends to be a very antiseptic experience.

You're in a very live room-where every sound is something you make is dreadfully aware of, and the only interaction permissible from the audience is clapping your hands in at various dynamics when the artist is through....and more often than not-FEW people research or become acquainted with the works to be played before hand-and are of course at a total loss trying to make sense of structure---and even then the only structure they are familiar with is the 32 bar song form (not Sonata form, or concerto/ritornello procedure, fugue procedure etc.).

March 31, 2008 at 03:13 AM · Take them to church? Oh right most churches have pop music nowadays. Hmmmm....

March 31, 2008 at 03:19 AM · "There's only one way to fix this and that's to expose children to music. Music Education in this country is pathetic so what do you expect."

I agree with this 200%. The only way to change the world is to start with the children. Adults are too set in their ways. It's too hard to try to change someone who's habits are formed. But...if we can start exposing children to the arts in schools, there is a chance.

Unfortunately, most schools (and parents) view the arts as 'electives' so those programs are the first to be cut when the financial pinch is on.

March 31, 2008 at 03:21 AM · Seriously the reason classical music is dying is that no one can see any reason for it. Western culture is, above all, aspirational. It is a reach for something better. So nowadays what is better? If there is nothing that is inherently good then there is no real reason to appreciate or enjoy classical music, classical art or classical literature. Its all just the product of dead white men.

When I was in high school we read Shakespeare. Not very much but we did one play a year (reading). My kids have read South American ghost stories that are just grade B porn. No time for dead white Shakespeare.

That is why its dying...

March 31, 2008 at 03:23 AM · Being a music educator in the public schools, my only reply to the "pathetic" comment is I don't disagree.

March 31, 2008 at 03:31 AM · It was the classical music helped me through the darkest days back in the communist regime when I was a kid. It is the classical music that has helped many poor, old and sick people that I know back there and here in the West to cope with whatever they have to go through. To those of you come to love classical music, don’t ever forget how lucky you are because one day whatever happens, be it growing old or sick or poor, you can reach to this resource that you’ve taken years to invest in yourself. For this reason, you are 100% richer than most. It is really beyond me to see all the negativity about classical music among the violinists here.

March 31, 2008 at 03:20 AM · Ray, Interesting discussion. How do we make classical music "hip" to young people? Ask Barack O?

March 31, 2008 at 03:50 AM · Who says classic music is dying? Not in Canada anyway. Look at 600+ participants in today’s massive email campaign on facebook launched by the group called “Save Classical Music at the CBC”, vast majority of them appear to me to be under 30. Send me an email if you want to join this group.

March 31, 2008 at 04:02 AM · That's great Yixi!! Things are looking up. I actually expect classical music to become much more popular. The world has put up with so much negativity in the 20th century it is now hungry for better things.

March 31, 2008 at 04:27 AM · """"People seem to in general have this expectation and desire of instant gratification. Example: "Guitar Hero". I've never played that "game" but I've seen PLENTY of people look really silly who do....the game requires no finesse, no control, and can be mastered in the space of an afternoon. Why not instead of relying on the game console-do they not pick up a guitar instead and learn the real thing? That is what I don't get. Is it nowadays too hard to do the real thing for the average person with their average attention span and average will-power? Is it that they don't have the spectacle to immerse themselves in? Is it that they don't have a "band" to play along with?""""

err I dont play guitar hero, but some ppl do where i work, I think the point of the game is its a game :P where they dont have to spend years learning a instrument to have some instant fun with any of there friends on a friday night.

March 31, 2008 at 05:08 AM · I am not worried about classical music. I think classical music is like golf on a few levels. It is a real generational issue. Golf lovers found Tiger Woods to reinvent golf for a younger generation just like the music industry finds prodigies. If you don't play golf however, it is rather boring to watch or hear about. Most golfers have a parent or sibling who golfs and that is how they start out. Everyone tells me I would love golf but I have no motivation to try it. I don't know the rules and am too busy enjoying other things that I can do better. What if I spend all this money for lessons and I don't like it, or I am no good? What about all my expensive ski gear? Golf seems like it is for old rich people. All joking aside, rock music, pop music, and others are the same as classical music. The concerts start to get too big, expensive, and contrived. Just like golf, people are just not that motivated to spend all the time and money to check it out. There is a barrier to entry due to the demise of music education at schools. Couple that with diversity, pop music, rap, and classical music gets squeezed off to the far side. The music industry coops new forms of music. They "discover" this band or that prodigy and in the end educational institutions become prodigy factories making classical music a rather exclusive little endevour. In my opinion children need to have frequent, intimate musical experiences starting at a young age and then move toward the more formal settings. In America, we are quite uncomfortable with formal situation and don't get many opporunities to practice our formal skills.

When I want my kids to hear classical music I let them watch Tom and Jerry cartoons or go to a concert where they know someone who is playing. Not some recording star, but a friend, teacher, or fellow student. Then we listen to the recording later. That way they can connect personally to the show and the music. Many movie soundtracks are also very interesting to children. Unfortunately, classical music remains rather inaccessible to children due to a lack of music education in schools and the level of noise from popular culture.

March 31, 2008 at 05:18 AM · Very true what you write J Kingston, but I would say you are describing a symptom, not a cause. If the energy is there it will cut through all the rubbish from music corporations or whatever is standing in the way of having a good time.

People are amazingly tough in my opinion. If they want to learn golf they damn well are going to learn it whether Tiger Woods or anyone else says they can or not.

But first they need the energy to believe. Where does that sort of spiritual food, or impulse, come from? Not from what they get told by a cheapjack, nay-saying culture.

Edit: you edited your post, above, making what I wrote here less necessary. Oh well! :-)

March 31, 2008 at 05:27 AM · Your comment brings to mind all the adult beginners who are on this forum. I did not grow up with musical parents or any family member who was musical. I wasn't exposed to classical music until I was in college and the reason I started listening to a public radio station was because I could study and have the music on in the background yet it wasn't distracting...like country or rock music. No words. No singing or screaming. That is how I got interested in classical music. It would be many years later that I would finally be able to pursue my dream of learning to play that music which I had grown to love.

So I will vouch that adult beginners have the energy to believe.

March 31, 2008 at 04:52 AM · I agree that it all comes down to education. Here in the U.S. we really need to start looking at "best practices" from other countries like Venezuela and various Asian countries where they are doing innovative things.

Also government figures can make a big difference. It was simply priceless having an art and music lover like Jackie Kennedy in the White House, resulting in memorable performances there by Casals and other great artists. Obviously there are not a lot of Jackie Kennedys out there, but I'd like to see a first lady/husband championing the cause of fine arts education as a primary goal for the country.

March 31, 2008 at 05:53 AM · 'Ask any teenager on the street if they would rather go see a classical concert or one of the current rock stars.'

I'm slightly older than a teenager, but I would choose the classical in a heartbeat. I was almost had by the 'classical is boring' stereotype at a young age. I suspect that many of the people who say that, define classical in terms of insubstantial divertimenti (a.k.a. social event background music) and assume that it's all just more of the same. Berlioz? Rimsky-Korsakoff? Nah. Mahler or Shostakovich? Forget it. That really saddens me.

March 31, 2008 at 10:34 AM · Jugding by the title of this thread it looked like a discussion about classical music but instead it is a showcase of christian fundamentalism - the only conclusion I can draw from the debate is that American society (not necessarily classical music) is bankrupt and in decline due to its religiuous fundamentalism, probably second only to Saudi Arabia which is more brutal in its enforcement but only equally stubborn in its conviction.

Oh what a sorry waste of bandwidth.

As for the state of classical music I predict a brighter future as more and more people seem to reject canned music (or at least refuse to pay for it) and turn to making music themselves.

March 31, 2008 at 06:01 AM · I agree. Jackie Kennedy was a lady, and a bright, intelligent and positive person. She had a light in her eyes. That's the key.

Not up to the debate, Benjamin K? Come sir, let us engage as two intellectual men of honor. Try to shoot me down with your arguments. I welcome it.

March 31, 2008 at 05:55 AM · Benjamin,

That is the risk you take with a public forum. I think it's one worth taking for our constitutional protections of free speech and peaceable assembly. If they have such a provision in Saudi Arabia, I'd like to know about it.

March 31, 2008 at 06:02 AM · Nicole, the problem is that religious fundamentalism does nothing other than bring out the evil in people. Protected by free speech legislation or not, the outcome is the same.

March 31, 2008 at 12:43 PM · You say religious fundamentalism. What other kind is there? Religious relativism?

Do you not believe in fundamental truth? That newts evolved from amoeba? That life took root from nonliving pond chemicals? That man was once a form of ape? (and I'll take my first shot at you here: there is no documented scientific, or any other, proof for these central tenets of your faith).

Somewhere, deep down, you believe in a history of the world. Of what really happened. That makes you a fundamentalist, too. You are a fundamentalist atheist. Atheism is a religion. It has its holy books, its priests, its high-priests, and its temples and institutions. It is a belief of the truth of the world, of us, our origins, a vision of the future and of final truth. That's fine. But are you evil? Is Richard Dawkins a good man? His belief has drawn out his spite.

I see you seem to be hinting at displeasure with freedoms for certain peoples. I however am not. Strike one against you?

March 31, 2008 at 07:14 AM · Since we're off topic -- Benjamin, I consider myself a pretty traditional Catholic who believes that somewhere, an objective truth exists. What is your definition of fundamentalist? Do you perceive evil in me?

(Trick question; I know it's there. What brings it out? In my case, impatience and money. Not my faith. And in this way, no two people will be exactly alike.)

You think it's irrelevant at best, corrupting at worst, and you may be right. He thinks it is relevant, and he may feel entirely justified. My point is, with free discourse there's always some risk you'll run into someone you find distasteful. Happens to me all the time. I side with Voltaire, though: no matter how you choose to deal with such people, it's far better than the alternative. Is the comparison to Saudi Arabia really warranted?

March 31, 2008 at 06:24 AM · John, what I do believe or not believe is my private affair. Maybe I am an atheist who is staunchly opposed against any form of public expression of religious conviction, maybe I am a deeply religious person who feels it is their religious duty to counter abuse of their faith by fundamentalists, maybe I am falling into a category you haven't thought of as a possibility and thus totally outside of the reference system you have established for yourself. In any event, I don't think in any of those terms you have offered and I don't feel like hijacking a forum about music for religious purposes and I would appreciate if you didn't do either, thank you.

March 31, 2008 at 09:33 AM · That is so weak, and my name is spelt Jon, Benjamin K. You took a shot, expect it back.

Having said that, I agree with you, this is a forum about violin.

Just don't make a cheap shot and expect to get off scot free. Argue well and like a man, and I'll listen to you, and maybe respect you too.

I listen to good arguments and to evidence. That is what I am.

But I just don't understand you. What do you mean that a fundamentalist can somehow screw your faith around? What do you believe in the first place? What sort of faith are we talking about? A faith that has no backbone to it? That can't define its own position? That will not say what it believes regarding origins?

Are you saying that a non-fundamentalist faith is one that toes the secular view on origins? How so, then? Why is that less fundamentalist? From what base, what source of knowledge or faith, comes this respect for secular fundamentalism over any other form?

Please, define fundamentalism, either here or send me an email. Thanks. I'm curious.

March 31, 2008 at 07:01 AM · To get back to it, I think some of the most universally familiar classical music might be some of the least interesting. I can't remember who posted, but I love the idea of bringing a friend to sit in the orchestra while they're really sawing away at something grand.

March 31, 2008 at 07:16 AM · Nicole, you mean like Ravel's Bolero? Ravel himself is said to have called it a piece for orchestra without music.

March 31, 2008 at 07:21 AM · OK, so you don't know. That's fine. Silence is an admission. Or maybe you'll send me an email later.

March 31, 2008 at 07:19 AM · > Somewhere, deep down, you believe in a

> history of the world. Of what really

> happened. That makes you a fundamentalist, too.

Ummm, no.

A fundamentalist arrives at a conclusion first, and then seeks out specific facts to support that conclusion, to the extreme of suppressing conflicting information.

A scientist (for example) looks at all the available facts, and then comes to a conclusion that is supported by those facts, to the extreme of establishing a regime of exhaustive testing to try and discover facts that do NOT support the conclusion (after all, science is a discipline founded on skepticism!).

March 31, 2008 at 12:48 PM · Um, no Gene. I have a degree in geology, and have several years field and laboratory observation experience in the industry, both Australian and international. That makes me qualified to comment on Darwinian evolution I think. Yes, a scientist looks at the evidence. I think you would be surprised by the numbers of top level scientists internationally who reject or strongly question Darwinian evolution. Ever growing.

Science as a discipline is not what you have described. Scientists have their own wheel barrows to push. They begin with assumptions, and set about coming up with results that test their assumptions. You are scientifically naive if you believe that science is unfettered by personal bias.

In fact, your description of a fundamentalist is a perfect, word for word description of the true state of the discipline of origins science - eg. dating methods, geological timescale, and so on. They arrive at a conclusion first. Dating methods depend on this. The laboratory date cannot be calculated without first making untestable, preconceived assumptions. These assumptions are themselves arrived at by a process of circular reasoning, a very poor and degenerate method of arriving at truth, scientific or otherwise. There is no timepiece or clock locked into the framework of the rocks, waiting to be read by geologists or geochemists or geophysicists with machines. They interpret the date, based on evolutionary, long time-scale assumptions. The system is self-supporting.

A true believer in any area must be a natural born skeptic. That includes Christians. You will find the most unbelievable depth of testing inquiry into faith within this religion, if you look.

Full marks for your sweetness though. That is so beautifully innocent of you to think so of the scientific world.

And could you, perhaps, define 'fundamentalist' for me, in the context with which you freely use it? Thanks!



March 31, 2008 at 08:29 AM · My apologies Ray. Your thread has been turned into a religious thread. May I suggest you start another, and I promise to keep out of the new one.

March 31, 2008 at 10:37 AM · Here is what I believe in: Considering that a) there is probably an abundance of forums dedicated to the discussion and promotion of religious beliefs and b) this forum here is dedicated to the violin, I believe that religion should be kept out of this forum, in particular when presented in such a manner as to be capable of being understood as akin to promoting one's religious beliefs.

March 31, 2008 at 10:39 AM · Well maybe I'll venture a word or two on the original topic of the thread, from my own observations of children here (including my own). I think there is more than a grain of truth in what Robert said, and I quote, "People seem to in general have this expectation and desire of instant gratification". I can see this in the tendency for fast food (who wants to spend 2 hours in the kitchen these days?) fast entertainment in the shape of TV, computer games, etc. We live in a reasonably well-to-do area, our children and those of our neighbours have toys a-plenty, gardens (our neighbours' children on either side of us regularly pop in to each others' homes/gardens) and all three of our homes now have pets. So why do the children still come out with "I'm bored", "I don't know what to do".

I think the rapidity of images on TV and the instant gratification of TV/computer games encourages greater laziness or at least disinclination to work at something diligently. Learning an instrument (or a foreign language for that matter) requires a lengthy period of persistent effort, and there is no instant gratification in the form of 'playing like Heifetz in 3 months'. Without the instant excellence, discouragement quickly follows. I think it needs a certain nurturing environment and there have always been the droves of those who gave up, yet I think today's technology probably makes it even harder.

Perhaps some of us can see a way to influence policymakers, but many of us can start in the home, encouraging children to make music and get together with others who are doing the same. Frank-Michael Fischer once suggested I get my son in a Suzuki type programme to encourage him in his playing by being with peers doing the same.

Children are more likely to keep going if they can have fun learning and playing together. Even for an adult it gets hard 'going it alone'. And even a foreign language can be fun if children see 'someone actually talks like that'.

March 31, 2008 at 12:58 PM · Laurie, what do you say? Will you crush discussion of religion on violinist.com? If so, I will agree to keep off the topic, if everyone else scrupulously avoids the topic as well. That includes discussion of evolution, atheism, Buddhism, or any other ism, and off the cuff complaints about DVD courses that originate from churches or church-affiliated organisations, as if being Christian somehow made it dodgy.

Benjamin, I tend to agree with you, provided you yourself don't try to push your own belief. This is what I meant by prompting you to define what you meant by 'fundamentalist'. You were not coming clean on that. There was a fairly clear message that you were appealing to a hidden code or understanding wherein 'fundamentalist' meant someone unreasonable or someone who does not think, or does not weigh all the evidence. That is not fair communication on your part. You should state clearly what you mean, as I have done here, always.

You raised the topic of evolution some time ago, on an earlier thread. Expect people to react if you do this. You were promoting your own religious beliefs, and packaging them in such a way as to be appealing. It is the same as me raising the topic of my religion. There is no difference.

Evil? I don't know where you got that idea. There are not too many Bible believing Catholics, Baptists, Anglicans or Presbyterians going around hurting people, or hurting themselves, last time I looked.

March 31, 2008 at 01:04 PM · Jon,

There's no need to avoid religion as a topical anathema. The problem comes that the influence of religion in this topic, we've been working at having, is from the get-go is only barely tangentially related to begin with. Also, the tone of the presentation is anything but positive, and at the same time seems strongly self-promoting (i.e. anyone who is not a christian of "faith" is contributing to the fall of music).

-Playing the violin has (next to) nothing to do with micro/macro-evolution

-Playing the violin has nothing to do with the accuracy of radio-carbon dating

-Playing the violin has nothing to do with fossil records

-Playing the violin has nothing to do with plate-tectonics

-Playing the violin has nothing to do with what Dawkins thinks about religion

This is, or was a thread about classical musics place in contemporary western culture. Religion can be drawn into this under culture-but skip the unnecessary esoteric sideswipping critiques of others belief systems.

March 31, 2008 at 01:27 PM · Wow, go away for a few days and amazing things happen. What an interesting thread this turned into.

I have to agree with Jon through all his posts.

One thing that was pointed to to me some time ago, and ought to be pointed out here is that the study of origins from any perspective properly falls into the category of philosophy, not science. Because it was a one time event, short of having a time machine it is not possible to go back and actually observe what happened at the very beginning, whether it was a big band or divine creation, so the conclusions one reaches depend entirely on how one choses to interpret the available evidence; it is a choice. No mount of fossil evidence proves either that they are the result of millions of years of evolution or that they are proof of a global flood. Both sides have access tot he same evidence, the difference is that one chooses to interpret the evidence as pointing to evolution, and another says it points to proof of the Flood.

I think the point Jon was trying to make is that the choice one makes has an effect that is relevant beyond merely satisfying curiosity. If one believes that was he is here because a divine, purposeful act, that tends to lead to a belief there is a purpose to life itself, which leads in turn to a belief in order, and that spills over into a form of music that has order. On the other hand, if one believes life is the result of a chaotic, random event, then one's individual life must also be a random, meaningless event and, by extension, if that person happens to be a composer, his music is likely to also tend toward disorder. What Jon was saying, I think, is that what we refer to as the classics by and large came from a period when belief in divine creation was as near universal as anything can be in this world, and that that accounts for its structured nature. If I've got it wrong, Jon, let me know.

March 31, 2008 at 01:51 PM · haha, finally a topic that gets people going. hats off to ray!

one way to look at it is to acknowledge the need to approach it from at least 2 angles and not mixing up the 2:

1. societal forces in terms of supply and demand

2. personal feelings regardless of societal forces.

1. supply/demand: ray's thread incidentally illustrates this point well by supplying something that is in demand. meanwhile, there are threads that generate min resonance. something that you hold dear is not necessarily identified by others or the majority. the society at large does not look at classical music that a few or some do. since we cannot legislate taste, force people to take up chess, poetry, there you have it: the natural distribution of choices. democracy if you will. people vote with their ipod lists and wallets. why does the canadian group have to disband? when it needs say, $200k, to go forward, does anyone from the facebook group come through?

2. personal choice: the merits of classical music overwhelmingly outweighs its whatever image, so i am not going to bother to go there. some grew up with pop music and lead their kids down that road, have the kids grow up to be great contributors to the society, which is perfectly fine with me. we harvest whatever we cultivate. our family, without any music background, happens to think classical music will help shape our kids in what we think the right direction for our kids. however, it is not that pop music folks are wrong and we are right. or the vice versa. i think kids are born with a clean slate. however they develop that we see fit is largely due to the influences from the parents and the environment.

looking at point 1, i know my kids will never be involved with music to the degree that they have to make money to live off it. looking at point 2, i know my kids' life will be enriched by being part of classical music. there is no conflict, only better alignment with the beauty of classical music through smart and hard work.

with orchestras, hey, look at point 1, just like a person trying to open a restaurant. no one owes you success. if you cannot provide your clients/patrons with what they want, they will pull the rug under your feet and bring their business elsewhere.

what to do then? don't do it for money! and get a job that really pays!

PS. i see there is some religious overtone in the discussion. since i started yawning trying to follow, i gave up. to link religion with classical music, particularly the classical music of today, is very hot air-ish because readers may not be in your sect! please give the credit to the beauty of the music itself. many junk "music" and lyrics also come from people with their own gods. wasssup with that devine intervention?

March 31, 2008 at 01:17 PM · [People seem to in general have this expectation and desire of instant gratification. Example: "Guitar Hero". I've never played that "game" but I've seen PLENTY of people look really silly who do....the game requires no finesse, no control, and can be mastered in the space of an afternoon.]

Talking about a game you've never tried is, to put it delicately, "error prone", in the same camp with talking about books you've never read and music you've never heard.

I have played the game, and its harmless fun, and much more difficult than you think. For example, I've been playing guitar since the mid-seventies, can site read charts, have played hundreds of gigs, etc, and couldn't get past the basic level. The reason is its not really guitar per-se, but rather an abstraction where the notes are distributed across virtual strings that have no relationship to actual strings. To get the expert level one would have to put in quite a bit of time, which is ironic in that the player could be putting in time learning a real instrument, but then teenagers put lots of time into games in general, and I'd rather they be playing this sweet harmless game than Grand Theft Auto or something violent.

As for the popularity of classical music, its the result of multiple factors, including for example, whether someone raised in a household that listened to classical music? But in the end the issue of popularity is moot. Who cares how many radio stations play what format, or how many people like a particular kind of music in world where you can listen to whatever you want over the internet?

March 31, 2008 at 01:42 PM · Marc, I simply do not agree with you. I was not saying you had contributed to the downfall of music; or if I was please forgive me, I'm not perfect.

You have to state your beliefs about art, or give up. Those are my beliefs. Sorry if you don't like 'em. I sideswiped rubbish belief because I feel it has sideswiped art. Many others do also. I define rubbish belief as that belief that says man (and therefore art) is effectively rubbish. Pretty basic.

Gary, thank you, and your arrival at this thread is most welcome indeed! I can now go to bed, as I live in Australia, and it is quite late here.

Yes, you are right, and you have expressed yourself beautifully. Please, could I ask you to stick around, as things are likely to get a little rough around here. I know from experience.

March 31, 2008 at 01:33 PM · Ray, "my" local NPR station, WBHM, has recently re-organized their programming priorities. Instead of playing classical music from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm, they have gone to All Talk All Day format, with the classical music "saved" for the evenings.

I said "my" because I used to send in pledges, until they cut the Met broadcasts on Saturdays several years ago. It seems that the folks that run this station don't care for classical music, and don't have any sort of personal obligation to nurture it with air support. Like, Whatever.

As for the future of classical music, it isn't in this country. Classical music in the US is going the way of the horse racing industry--something to be supported in the big cities, but not enough interest in Flyover Country. And the audience for both industries is old, and getting older.

The future of Classical Music is in China!!!

March 31, 2008 at 02:03 PM · anne, that is a bold conclusion!:)

but i must say, every time i go to a kid recital in metro NY areas (violin/piano), i always chuckle at the scene of asian invasion. i find the consistency of the odd ratio boring. it seems that chairman mao or buddha or confucius or lang lang are doing a more effective job of recruiting than the their western counterparts! haha~!!!

March 31, 2008 at 02:30 PM · Well, Anne

Classical music has always been a bit of a plaything of the aristocracy. Perhaps some good can be made out of it--when something becomes harder to find, it can become more precious.

I'll hope anyway



As I've said (somewhere up above)-no one belief system or lack of said has a monopoly on poor quality music. There is plenty of pop "christian rock" that I would classify as pandering trash, that whole "genre" (I think it has its own now) strikes as that. Perhaps the US is a major producer of popular musical trash-but that is another debate :>)

You cited Cage for example, he sought to find beauty and interest in the sound itself, for sounds sake, not necessarily melody. 4'33" is a selection about the ambient sounds in a room-unfortunately in an antiseptic concert hall, it is considered a crime for their to be any sound apart from the air-handlers and the performer thermselves. There are a plethora of sounds out there (some interesting, some beautiful, some obnoxious)-that easily escape our notice, because we are too wrapped up in our day to day affairs.

Artistic purpose and intent is supplied by the artist one way or another-if one wants to hand the credit over to a higher purpose, that is their call, either way they are responsible. Regardless of belief system, most performers supply their own meaning and intent and seek beauty and how to express it. Simply becuase an artist does not have "faith" does not mean that the intent of their work is "chaotic" or "random" or "meaningless".

I make the most of my existence, and do what I do because I want to, and because I think it to be the right thing to do---simply because I choose not to have "faith" does not in and of itself mean that I approach my existence or by extension, my music as a "meaningless" "chaotic" event.

March 31, 2008 at 02:58 PM · 'anyone who is not a christian of "faith" is contributing to the fall of music'

After rereading Jon's original post, I must say that's a rather one-dimensional understanding of what he said. Can we all put our hackles back down, please?


Perhaps. I was thinking along the lines of the kind of music they play on that awful Crystal Light 'pump up your water' (or whatever it is) commercial, where they switch from string quartet music to some kind of pop to indicate pumped-upness. Have you ever seen that? It irritates me to no end. There is plenty of interesting quartet music out there, but no, they have to zero in on the dullest kind and act like it's representative.

March 31, 2008 at 03:10 PM · 'it is not possible to go back and actually observe what happened at the very beginning, whether it was a big band or divine creation'

I know that was unintentional, but I like very much the idea of a big band at the dawn of creation. It don't mean a thing, if it aiiin't got that swing...doo wa, doo wa! :)

March 31, 2008 at 03:19 PM · "Look at 600+ participants in today’s massive email campaign on facebook launched by the group called “Save Classical Music at the CBC”

I would like to know how much that orchestra costs. According to the article they give 8 concerts per year and their budget is under 1 million. Call it $800,000 for the sake of discussion. Are their concerts worth $100,000 each?

March 31, 2008 at 03:27 PM · Jon,

I'll stay by, but being half way around the world, it's morning, and I have to pop back and forth between patients. So I may not respond right away. In fact, they are telling me to quit messing about and get back to work.

March 31, 2008 at 03:20 PM · Jim, how much are the musicians' salaries? What kind of projects might they do besides large concerts -- do they have a chamber music series? Outreach? Do they do commercial recordings?

I'm just sayin' -- I'm no expert, but I could easily see one or two events exceeding $100,000.

That said, I bet they could be successful taking on the model of PBS. The pledge drives are annoying, but business is business, and then you don't have your program interrupted every ten minutes for ads. Is it my imagination, or is the ad time during most TV shows becoming nearly equal with actual program time? It seems to take two hours to watch a 1 1/2-hour movie with cuts anymore.

March 31, 2008 at 03:36 PM · What do folks think of this idea: Everyone here cares about the future of classical music, right? So why doesn't each person propose 2 PRACTICAL ideas that might assist in spreading the gospel, as it were, of classical music to folks who haven't yet "seen the light?"

March 31, 2008 at 03:41 PM · ok,

1. come out under the rock. put your playing on youtube..overwhelm them by the numbers, no matter you think you are too good or too bad. (you or your family memeber that is :)

2. buy a cd from a fellow v.comer who is still alive and need assistance and support. another disc of heifetz,,,bah! wake up from your day dream!

March 31, 2008 at 03:33 PM · With the advent of the internet there is more likelihood of exposure to "classical" music than ever before. If an individual is going to "come to it" he or she will when she is ready--I know it took me a long time. I think "outreach programs" (and I'll bet there are far more now than ever before) help a lot as well, since there's nothing like a live performance to complete the deal.

I also want to add this: I can't believe the way you guys let someone hijack a discussion of an issue and divert it to a discussion of "faith and the lack of faith and its importance in artistic creation." It reminds me of how a group of such people has distracted the public from a discussion of real political issues in recent years. It also reminds me of how "Toni" tried to turn so many threads on this forum into a discussion of Vanessa Mae a few years back. We survived that one, at least.

Classical music is alive and well. It will always be appreciated by a small percentage of people for the most part. There will also be rare exceptions where an artist such as Luciano P. becomes a superstar.

March 31, 2008 at 03:37 PM · I also don't see a good reason for all the negativity that I often read on this site. I feel pretty good about the environment for classical music that I live in.

But I agree with a few of the points made above. I think that music education can and should be improved in the US (and perhaps in other countries, but I can't speak about them, because I don't live there).

However, I don't think it's necessary to throw out the baby with the bathwater, that is, it is neither necessary nor helpful to bash what we have in place now, to call it pathetic and bemoan how much better it is in Venezuela. There are good reasons why we can't and shouldn't try to import "El Sistema" wholesale into the United States.

But people can still help out at the local level. Join the parent organizations at kids' schools. Attend town meetings and protest cuts in music education and vote for candidates who don't see music as a frilly, cuttable elective. If the frilly elective people get elected anyway, go around the government, join the PTA and raise money for musical enrichment programs outside of school. Write a grant like Laurie did. Support your community music school and community orchestra: attend their concerts, donate to their fund drive, send your kids there for lessons. Put up posters advertising their concerts in local businesses and libraries.

And while Jon and I probably disagree on most theological matters, I think he makes an important point about church music. Much great music *is* church music. Mozart's Coronation Mass, Vivaldi's Gloria, Bach's Chaconne. It belongs to all of us, whatever our religious beliefs or lack thereof. At its best, music can connect people with the universe and deepen their personal faith. Youth choirs, getting kids (and adults) involved in singing and playing sacred music, while leaving out the tiresome tests for ideological purity and "culture war" bickering, would also help.

March 31, 2008 at 04:24 PM · > So why doesn't each person propose 2 PRACTICAL ideas that

> might assist in spreading the gospel, as it were, of classical music

I think Wendy/Walter Carlos created a great interest in baroque music with her/his synthesized Bach tunes in the late 1960s. That sort of thing might still work today, perhaps in a different style/sound though.

Fortunately, information technology has not only made it more difficult for record companies to sell their trash, but perhaps more importantly it has made it much easier for ordinary folks to create and produce their own music. And if you check out those web sites were amateurs share their creations you can definitely see a trend of house music making a comeback. Some of this is based on classical music, some of which is in a Carlos-like synthesized style/sound. But even if it's not classical music, it doesn't really matter because people who make music actively will be able to appreciate good music far more than those who exclusively listen passively, no matter what genre and thus also classical music.

March 31, 2008 at 04:26 PM · Nicole,

I did the 'big band,' didn't I. Somehow, being able to play the organ never translated to typing. I've always be a dislexic typist.

March 31, 2008 at 04:08 PM · I'll risk throwing out a proposal or two despite some ridicule which is certain to come my way, because: 1. I believe fervently that this music is such a great treasure; and 2. I know a taste for classical music can be acquired by adults and so-called average people at that.

Here's an idea: members of local high school or other orchestras and/or other volunteers interested in spreading interest in classical music could go door to door in their communities handing out CDs of with selections from Chopin, Bach, Schubert, Mozart, etc. Along with this the volunteer would give an impassioned brief statement of how great classical is if given a chance to work its magic. Acquisition of the CDs would be done through donations. And if people accepted the CD I would put them on a mailing or e-mail list to be notified of classical events and also for follow-up visits to see what they thought of the music.

I know when I hear a knock at the door on a cold Saturday afternoon and a couple of LDS missionaries are there, I'm always greatly impressed by their commitment to spreading their message. After all, here they are standing in the cold when they could be sitting at home watching a movie or something. And they're not doing it to make money.

March 31, 2008 at 04:34 PM · Nicole, haven't seen that crystal light commercial you mentioned, but speaking of classical music in commercials, I can also see positive impact. Here in Japan there are quite a lot of TV commercials which use classical music and many Japanese I know would recognise various pieces from those commercials. This certainly creates some interest in classical music that might otherwise be less or absent. Those pieces are by no means dull, the Japanese advertising agencies choose their repertoire quite well, or so it seems.

March 31, 2008 at 04:40 PM · Mitchell,

You're probably one of the few people who don't dread being pestered at their homes. However, that is a pretty original idea and I think it has potential.

Gary, that's okay, I got a kick out of it.

March 31, 2008 at 04:50 PM · Benjamin,

That is true. I bet every American knows O Fortuna, whether they know it or not. I do see a tendency to keep using the same pieces over and over, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but they could think outside the box a little more. It could be very useful, though.

March 31, 2008 at 05:18 PM · Nicole, maybe the US advertising agencies are not as bold as the Japanese ones when it comes to selecting the repertoire :-)

Funny you mention "knows Oh Fortuna, even if they don't know it". It reminds me of my trying to find out which piece of music a certain percussive use of bowed strings was from which I often heard on TV as a kid. Since I was too young to remember the actual program nor even the country in which the program was aired, it was like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Eventually, when I first listened to Stravinsky's Sacre du Printemps, I think that might have been the piece the percussive strings sequence was taken from (between 3 and 4 mins into it). It took me "only" about 3 decades to narrow this down and I am not 100% sure, but if it wasn't this piece it was likely some other Stravinsky piece as he's pioneered this style of playing.

Anyway, I kept looking for it all those years, so it made quite an impact on me, although it wasn't a commercial :-)

March 31, 2008 at 05:15 PM · Where are we going with Classical music?

How do we get the youth back to quality music?

We are going nowhere!

Didn't you know that?

"classical music" is dead just with the title.

Music was always made by great artists, whether it's Heifetz, Eric Clapton, or Jimmie Hendrix.

You can't stop history, but if you want to have some fun, at least get a decent audience and reduce the obscene ticket prices and ban the grey haired foggies!

March 31, 2008 at 05:06 PM · I've mentioned this on another thread, but the bicentennial of Chopin's birth (March 1, 2010) IMO presents a great opportunity to generate new interest in classical music.

Why should Chopin celebrations be limited to Poland and France? Other countries including the U.S. have large and justifiably proud ethnic Polish communities, so why not honor them and Chopin by having governments recognize the event? Get governments on all levels involved. Include recognition for performers recognized as masters in interpreting Chopin.

Why not make a big deal of the event in schools, by having performances of Chopin's music, even skits based on his life with his music in the background. Have kids try to dance to his waltzes and mazurkas.

Make it a year-long celebration of Chopin, his music, the great Polish people and classical music in general.

One of my U.S. Senators is Barbara Mikulski, and I'm hoping she might see some merit in the idea on the federal level.

March 31, 2008 at 05:05 PM · "No mount of fossil evidence proves either that they are the result of millions of years of evolution or that they are proof of a global flood."

Sorry Gary. Your statement simply reflects the fact that either A. You haven't read the relevant literature on evolution or B. you simply chose not to believe it. That the world and the multitude of species came to be via a big flood is a quaint and untenable bit of quackery. No one can go back and see how exactly the very first molecules organized themselves into life, but we do have a very good picture of how life has evolved since then. The evidence through various kinds of radioactive dating and fossils and the evidence in DNA itself is overwhelming. Unless the whole idea of evolution bothers you emotionally and you reject it out of hand like so many.

It's like choosing to believe in gravity. Or calculus. Or quantum theory.

My argument with Jon is not the trivialities of topics like evolution, but his main assertion that all that is wrong with modern society is its lack of religious faith. And that if only everyone would go to church and pray that all of society's problems would go away. It's a belief also held by hard-line clerics. Societies like Japan lack faith but still have a strong ethical belief system. Some societies with strong religious traditions like those in South America are corrupt to the core.

Religion may solve some problems, but it introduces others.

March 31, 2008 at 05:20 PM · "You will find the most unbelievable depth of testing inquiry into faith within this religion, if you look."

Jon, this statement may be true for some Christian sects such as the Jesuits, but it is not true across the board, and especially for American Protestant fundamentalism. If that were true, the clergy would be requiring their congregation to read Darwin and Dawkins on Wednesday nights along with bible study.

March 31, 2008 at 05:11 PM · This turned into a discussion far more "enthusiastic" than I had ever figured.

I agree with many of the posts about where we

are headed classically and how to stop the demise. Couldn't agree more about China. It appears that our own community orchestra that I run now is possibly headed to China in two years sponsored by a major company that has business dealings in China. Also Kurt Sassmannshaus has

a major violin school over there.

As far as clasical music over here, a lot of kids

go along with peer pressure and tune in and turn on to rock, some of which is quite good, but then equally as popular now there are some pretty degenerative versions of

"music" that the kids adore whose multi millionaire practitioners spend half their time in jail and the other half stoned. And how they call Rap music is beyond be.

I don't think religion, or lack of, has much to

do with why your neighbor has his earphones playing P Diddy, or whoever, instead of Beethoven. Spaking of P. Diddy, or whatever he calls himself now, I am thinking very seriously of asking a very famous rapper, not Diddy, that lives around here to be on my symphony advisory board. If he accepts I will certainly pick his brain and report back. I think he just might be intrigued by such an offer and say yes. My attitude in promoting classical music and the TCSO is simple, ask super important people to help out, the worst they can do is say no. When building the Stamford Symphony some extremely well known and important people said they would help out this nobody. If you're trying to build a community orchestra my strong advice is shoot for the moon, nothing whatsoever to lose. You might also be very pleasantly surprised.

That ties in with the theme of this discussion, building back classical music's audience. The bigwigs of the ST. Louis Symphony, one of the major ones, are helping me make the TCSO work. They said that the TCSO rather then being their competition is beneficial to everyone, the better we get the better for them also A last thought, my wife just said parents do not take their children to classical concerts for two reasons, THEY were not exposed to it frequently and symphony concerts now are terribly expensive with seats in the hundreds of dollars for one standard concert. She also mentioned that schools don't take their classes to symphony performances as much as the used to do.

March 31, 2008 at 06:48 PM · i think the so called bigwigs are helpful, unfortunately mostly by helping with the supply side, pulling in funds for short term ventures on a business model that the bigwigs themselves would probably not approve on their day job.

what needs to be done is what those bigwigs do with their day job,,, creating long term grassroot demand by correctly targeting the crucial segment of the audience.

focus on the children,,,early. as early as you can. parents get a discount accompanied by a child. family with most visits get free tickets next season. dress down concerts (that is, if you come in properly dressed, you will be fined),etc. can you make an effort to be more fun loving and sharing,,,,eh, for your survival?

many preK, K, grade 1, 2, 3 have kids and parents that are "undecided" despite the parents' taste or the lack of. the kids should be the target of marketing and education. we have teachers (even here) that will not teach a kid until certain age. brilliant! hello???

unfortunately, i don't think the effort so far is "aggresive" enough. expand the suzuki program to even younger kids. encourage one of the parents to learn violin along with the kid. if you don't play violin, yes, you are odd! not the other way around.

Fedex gives 10 million dollars to the most successful golfer each year, sort of like a bonus. How many free violins can you buy with that?

or, in the USA, if angelina/brad openly announce their kids will bring their violins on route to africa, then all the problem of the violin world will be solved:) what a silly world we live in now!

March 31, 2008 at 07:14 PM · I put down our current establishment because it's not working. Sure I'm thriving in it now but for how long? If I feel that music concerts are too stuffy for me then I'm going to say it.

Haydn was a servant. For the best part of his career Bach was too (think sonatas/partitas, keyboard concerti etc). Don't get too high on your horses thinking that we're better than anyone else just because we're artists.

Sure most of us are comfortable with our place in music because we eath, breathe, and live music. But to outsiders we look like one big unwelcoming club for members only. The only way to get more interest in real music is to make it accessible, not a privilige.

On the basic individual level I propose:

1. Start to think differently. As musicians our most important task is to be of service to people. This is why art institutions are non-profit organizations. The government deems us with the responsibility to educate the public and be our own advocators. Take this responsibility seriously like I do - educate, enrich, inform, and perform.

2. Expose the people around you to music. Play concerts in retirement homes, at school, in the park, at a restaurant, in the grocery store, it doesn't matter. As long as people see an instrument they will be exposed.

3. Music gatherings. Every few months (and more often once we are done renovating) I hold musical gatherings. I invite musicians and non musician friends for chamber music parties. Non musicians rarely get a treat like this.

4. Open up the rehearsals. We are a living museum after all but it doesn't have to be a negative thing!!!! Open the doors. Make signs that say "Orchestra Rehearsal - Come on in and watch but please do not disrupt" Let them sit next to you, or next to the brass during a symphony rehearsal. (that was my idea by the way Nicole) Have them feel the vibrations of the floor under us.

5. Include the audience. Encourage applause between movements, don't look at them with disdain. Speak to them! Make a joke. Let them drink their cranberry juice! Make them feel like they're a part of this performance with their presence... the way John Cage does with 4'33''.

6. Push for music education. I liked the idea stated above to join the PTA. Write letters to your congressmen. Do neighborhood concerts. Help organize concerts at your children's school.

... but whatever you do, don't preach to them about music or anything else. People choose their preachers and teachers and if this thread was a channel on tv I would be watching another channel by now.

March 31, 2008 at 11:39 PM · We have to stop ignoring and start appreciating the "classical" music of our composer contemporaries. Many people seem to think that classical music died in the year 1900- we have to do all we can to change this idea.

April 1, 2008 at 12:11 AM · Show me a contemporary 'classical' composer whose work gives me an experience I value and I'll shout the name from the mountaintops.

But don't expect help giving credence to the comical struggle of contemporary composers to sneak traditional musical values into work straight-jacketed by the bankrupt self-talk of today's 'fine art' scene.

April 1, 2008 at 12:17 AM · Marina,

That's why I love the orchestra most of all. You can feel the vibrations come up through the floor, into your legs, up to your chest, and the sympathetic ringing of the violin. It's an amazing thing to be in the middle of all that sonic power.


Your Old Testament is rusty. Noah's flood did not create the world. "Those who live in glass houses..."

April 1, 2008 at 01:03 AM · Classical music didn't die around 1900. Rather, around that time is the end of the romantic sort of 19th century music that is "classic." Then came tone-rows. The serialists are the innovators that make it possible to have "classical" music, because their departure from the comfortable homey-feel of diatonic harmony set "modern" music apart from what is "classic."

Unfortunately the word "classical" is overused and applied to any of the following:

*Music by Europeans written for nobility;

*Music that utilizes a full symphony orchestra;

*Music that has a string section, is not jazz, and doesn't "swing";

*Music for which some people get dressed up to see;

*Music that uses a conductor;

*Music that uses the cello, the english horn, the basset horn or the french horn. Or the viola.

*Music that reverse-snobs consider "stuffy";

*Music that reverse-snobs think is played in "stuffy surroundings";

*Music that does not ever use the electric guitar;

*(and for the 20th century confusion part) music that is written by innovators such as Glass or Berg or others that almost nobody appreciates;

*Music that reminds people of the "Star Wars" theme.

*Movie Music by John Williams. (Don't throw tomatoes at me).

As you can see, "classical" is not a particularly useful term. It is one of those shorthands that we use because we already know what each other mean. Unfortunately this also means that nothing new is said, that categories get locked even when they are nonsense, that questioning is inhibited.

March 31, 2008 at 10:38 PM · Scott,

As regards (A) of your post, I have read the relevant literature, a great deal of it from my high school days to present. My post graduate work was towards a masters degree in analytical chemistry, and I have a very good understanding of radiocarbon dating and other dating methods. I can give a and clear and complete lecture on one if you'd like.

As to (b), you've merely restated my point, which is that what one believes on this matter is the result of choice. You have chosen to believe that the evidence for evolution is overwhelming. That's fine, and I happy you've studied the question and come to a conclusion that satisfies you.

However, the accumulation of observations, no matter how many, only serves to bolster one's belief. It fails as proof positive, and contrary to what you've stated, the evidence for evolution is far from overwhelming. Text books and the popular press paint try to that picture, and one gets the impression that evolutionists are all in complete agreement. Go beyond that and read evolutionts' debates with each other, and you'll discover a lot of discord. The sad lack of completely convincing evidence is an admitted problem, and the need for 'faith' even pops up in their writing. An odd thing if the matter is settled.

The scientific method cannot prove ( or disprove, for that matter) either creationism or evolution. What scientific experiment would you propose to definitively answer the question of our origin? Will others be able to duplicate it? What experiment would you propose as a falsification test? By the very definition of origin, it can't be done because it only happened once. Even if life is produced in the laboratory, that would not definitive proof that life came about as the result of a random event. It would be supportive evidence for evolutionists' argument, certainly, but not proof. Creationists could just as easily take the same test results and point out that the test-tube life would not have happened had not a scientist put the right conditions in order, and that therefore proves the need for intelligent design for life to form.

You say your argument is not with trivialities like evolution. It's not trivial, it's central. Jon is not saying that if everyone would go to church and pray that society's ills would magically go away. What he has pointed out is that what we believe determines how we behave, both collectively and individually At its most basic, what we believe about where we came from is a major determiner of how we see ourselves, others and how we relate to them, and that goes to the question of origins. That vision of who we are, where we came from, spills over into all facets of our lives, including music. What sort of music will be written by one who sees life as hopeless, without meaning, just one tragedy after another? What sort by the composer newly in love? Or the one who has just become the parent of a much-wanted child? You can trace the course of a composer's life by the music written. Likewise, Jon has pointed out that you can trace the course of a society by the music it prefers. Junk has been written in all ages, of course, but the predominant musical form when much of our classical music was written, like it or not, reflects a society with a belief in God and in divine creation. Even Beethoven's works that were referred to somewhere above as not being so inspired, in fact were. Beethoven did not launch off into some unique musical form. He used the structure that was based on a belief that God is God of order, and musical structure should reflect that order. Jon has merely stated that with the rise of Darwinism a new self-view came with it that replaced the previous, and as regards music that world view says "Why try to write timeless music, something for the ages, if we are only going to be here for the blink of an eye, and then consigned to oblivion? I'll just try to make the top 40. Who cares what it sounds like so long as I make a bunch of money."

April 1, 2008 at 01:07 AM · I think pop music is a lot less criticizing of what we as trained musicians (not meaning trained is better) look for---like intonation, phrasing, tone. With pop, people are looking more for the image, the song. Usually something they can relate to , or something that can boost them (like songs with strong rhythms and catchy words.

With pop, its more about charisma.

With pop it is more "going for it", with intonation, phrasing, yadayada sitting back seat.

Perhaps (when I first heard this I thought it was very interesting) classical music is becoming more and more like this---getting away from its "stuffy" orchestras with mountains of gray heads, and going into a younger-set audience. Think of the modern violinists---Joshua Bell, Hilary Hahn, Nicola Benedetti, Sarah Chang, Gil Shaham.....and at this moment, other than Itzhak Perlman, I can't think of older famous violinist.

The older generation was all about ugly (used in a light way) old men: Oistrakh, Stern, Francescatti, Heifetz, Gitlis, Milstein....yadayadayada

it'd be interesting to see what ya'll think.

April 1, 2008 at 01:18 AM · Now, to go back to the topic at the top of the page. Mississippi Public Radio still has a classical music format, for the most part, though talk radio is creeping in. I may not like it, but we can't blame the stations; if they want to stay on the air they have to offer what the majority of the people want to listen to. I don't know what the answer is, but I'm probably not the one to ask. I've always enjoyed classic music. I'd give my organ teacher fits because even at twelve all I wanted to play was Bach. It's not that I didn't like other types of music, but when it came to playing, Bach ruled. (Still does.)

On the home front, I make it a point of inviting anyone who will stand still to come hear our local symphony. The first time I had someone decline the invite by saying, "Oh, I can't go. I don't have enough education. i wouldn't understand that high falutin stuff," I thought it a fluke. Unfortunately, the 'I don't have enough education' is the most common response we get. We try to make it clear that an advanced degree, or any degree at all, is not needed to enjoy the music. And we don't play only 'high falutin stuff,' either. We've had concerts centered on jazz, movie scores, the blues to try and bring people in. Sometimes it seems like a losing task, but we keep trying.

April 1, 2008 at 02:30 AM · Gary, the only big difference between creationism and the alternatives is creationism says there's some sentient mind behind it. If you could zoom in on the reality with a microscope, I think you might see something so out of our realm of experience that there's nothing to call it. Also, if you don't believe in creationism is doesn't mean you must believe death is the end of it all, or that life is pointless, and so on. Also, I think that at the highest levels of appreciation there's little difference between classical and say top 40. The huge differences there are fairly superficial I think. At the highest levels you must make good use of psychology, sociology, biology, and so on.

April 1, 2008 at 02:57 AM · Thanks Gary, I enjoyed reading your posts. I'm very grateful that you and one or two others have read what I wrote and been fair about it. Thanks Nicole for your clarity, intellectual honesty and fairness also.

For those who yawn at such discussion, I cannot understand you. You have fallen asleep at your post, and you don't care. To call the topic of evolution trivial is irresponsible. You think this has no effect on society, on art?

What I notice is a lot of people here cringe away from such topics as religious belief and its effect on art and culture. That is ignorance, and/or a passivity that reflects a selfishness - a lack of care or interest in others. 'I'm OK Jack', they call it. Its OK if you don't want to buy into the argument, but don't dare try and enter the fray and say that the topic is irrelevant.

Well, my position on this topic is stated, you can read it above if you'd like. I hope you do. I notice that my detractors or challengers have not read what I wrote. They have guessed what I wrote. Your integrity, guys, is on public display! I read every letter and every dot of what you wrote. I listened to what you had to say, and I weighed it up. You had a chance to present your case. I was prepared to debate. No one took me on. You cannot debate someone if you don't truly read what they wrote.

Also, one new thing to mention: I was not talking about composer's Church or sacred or liturgical music (though that is part of the equation). No, that was not my point at all. I was talking about the composer's entire output - all the secular stuff and symphonies and violin solos and whatever else, as well as the religious music. That is why I specified I was talking about faith (or 'faith', as Marc puts it, as though he thinks it a rather dubious concept), not churchyness (robes, symbolism, regalia, Church tradition and ceremony, etc - all these things help people to have faith, but they are not the important part). If you don't 'get' this, well, you have not thought very deeply on these things. Perhaps you do not understand what faith is. Interesting, because this is the thing God cares for most of all. He doesn't care about churchyness at all, and says so in the Bible.

Work calls, and I can't contribute to this anymore, most likely, so if someone comes out with a corker response, to which I simply must respond, will someone please let me know and I'll come back for a look at it. A good look.

Regards, to all. Happy music making!

April 1, 2008 at 02:25 AM · Gary,

When I was eight years old, I didn't have any education. Classical music spoke to me anyway. If you need something to tell them, you can quote me on that!

April 1, 2008 at 02:30 AM · Jon,

It's not always easy to see the motives of someone writing on the internet, but I don't think you would have tried to answer the question without feeling like you had something valid to contribute, unlike some real spammers. It was an intriguing answer.

April 1, 2008 at 02:43 AM · Any notion that quality in music or any other art is necessarily related to the creating artist's religious faith or lack thereof is entirely speculative, in fact it borders on shameless propaganda and is most definitely off-topic. In the name of observing proper netiquette, can we please refrain from this sort of thing either way, thanks a lot.

April 1, 2008 at 03:11 AM · jon, your writing is appropriate for a theology site. i have no problem reading about religion in a historical context. to go beyond that with christian values or the lack of is rather inconsiderate to say the least.

if doctors do not discuss their own religion with patients of different creed, i think fellow musicians should be treated with similar courtesy.

April 1, 2008 at 03:03 AM · I got the impression it was more about the state of our culture than of any particular individual (correct me if I'm wrong, Jon), and I don't think it's poor etiquette to try to answer the question in a candid way. The perspective clearly is not a popular one, but there's a distinction to be made between that and 'hijacking.'

Just my $.02.

April 1, 2008 at 03:34 AM · If a thread with the topic "classical music" which in the widest colloquial usage means about 1600 to about present becomes littered with posts about fossil records and entirely outside the realm of music, then this amounts to hijacking the discussion indeed.

April 1, 2008 at 03:41 AM · Oistrakh is God.

He created the universe, made false religions for his own morbid amusement, and then finally revealed himself as a violinist so he could hang out with his own petty creations. Finally he got bored of the whole thing, staged his death, and then hung out with Elvis in the Land of Neverending Soda. Fossil records were all faked by His Bow Arm for His amusement. Everytime a scientist finds more overwhelming evidence for evolution, it's simply His Bow Arm there, giving the scientists optical illusions.

Now that that that is all settled, let's stick to discussion about music, yes?

April 1, 2008 at 03:45 AM · Jake, hilarious and very convincing, but given that we're at 90 posts now, perhaps you should have waited another 10 posts to make yours the final one, no doubt it would be a very appropriate final post :-)

April 1, 2008 at 12:12 PM · What could have been a great discussion on finding a solution to the decline of interest in classical music has been turned into a vulgar display of charmless accusations about lack of spirituality. Sorry for the quoting below but I find these comments offensive:

"""a lot of people here cringe away from such topics as religious belief and its effect on art and culture. That is ignorance, and/or a passivity that reflects a selfishness - a lack of care or interest in others."""

"""I notice that my detractors or challengers have not read what I wrote. They have guessed what I wrote. Your integrity, guys, is on public display! I read every letter and every dot of what you wrote. I listened to what you had to say, and I weighed it up. You had a chance to present your case. I was prepared to debate. No one took me on. You cannot debate someone if you don't truly read what they wrote."""

"""If you don't 'get' this, well, you have not thought very deeply on these things. Perhaps you do not understand what faith is"""

This is narcissistic babble looking for a debate on v.com about religion. Your paranoia that we're not reading your posts and your conviction that we do not understand that there is a relationship between spirituality and the progreession of society is entertaining. You're in the wrong arena to do theological battle though. I like the way you're exiting your soap box """I can't contribute to this anymore, most likely, so if someone comes out with a corker response, to which I simply must respond, will someone please let me know and I'll come back for a look at it. A good look"""

April 1, 2008 at 12:23 PM · When I moved to NY 10 yrs ago there were 2 classical stations on the radio. My favorite was wnyc, especially the morning show with Steve Post. On 9/11 was the last day I ever heard the beginning of that show. Now in new york city there is 1 classical music station wqxr which is not even NPR!!!!! It's owned by nytimes. WNYC plays music only in the evening hours now.

April 1, 2008 at 01:10 PM · Wow. This thread has visited the world. I was just going to say maybe young people don't relate to classical music because classical music isn't relating to them. Ray, I agree with you--too often, classical music comes off as stuffy, elitist, snobby and dry.

April 1, 2008 at 01:06 PM · Interesting how Pope John Paul's and Pope Benedict's opinions on music were completely different. Let me first say that I have enormous respect for both of them and consider both of them to be great men.

Pope John Paul's appearances, especially when he travelled around the world, were often accompanied by pop music. He knew he was trying to reach the hearts of young people and that this would help him. He also had no problem with changes to the music used for liturgical purposes.

Pope Ratzinger on the other hand has stated (when he was a cardinal) that he considered pop music to be a "cult of mediocrity." He loves Mozart, is opposed to using pop music even for the purpose of evangelizing, and wants the Church to adhere strictly to the traditional liturgical music.

My question is this: If religion and spirituality are at the crux of whatever "decline" there has been in musical tastes, then how can these two deeply religious, spiritual men come out so differently regarding the appropriateness of different types of music?

April 1, 2008 at 01:32 PM · Well, it had a chance to be a neat interesting thread.

Quoth The HitchHikers Guide to the Galaxy....it has insight on all topics.....

"They slowly gazed at God's Final Message to His Creation in wonderment, and were slowly and ineffably filled with a great sense of peace, and of final and complete understanding:

'We apologize for the inconvenience'"

April 1, 2008 at 03:33 PM · "Show me a contemporary 'classical' composer whose work gives me an experience I value and I'll shout the name from the mountaintops."

Andres, as you don't give any details of what type of experience you value, it's hard for us to know in which direction to point you, but there are many hundreds of "contemporary 'classical' composers" out there, so I'm sure there's one that's just right for you. You might have to look a little on your side, too.

April 1, 2008 at 01:50 PM · marc, it is still a neat interesting thread:)

i don't think jon or anyone "hijacked" this thread. what he said was neat and interesting. i just don't see how he could relate to people who do not share his religious passion, thus i yawn.

internet is a great thing,,,,we litter it with our psychological profiles:)

April 1, 2008 at 02:13 PM · I wonder how one would define "contemporary classical composer" ... is it required for the composer to be alive or is there a grace period and if so, then how long is that grace period? As an example, if there is no such grace period, then I guess Stockhausen's works would have been contemporary last year but the very same works would no longer be contemporary this year.

April 1, 2008 at 02:35 PM · The music that went along with Carl Sagan's "Cosmos" TV series was amazing. It spanned the vast reaches of time and space and touched its listeners deeply. It included tracks from Vivaldi's Four Seasons and Rimsky-Korsakoff's Russian Easter Overture.

"For sheer excitement, evolution, as an empirical reality, beats any myth of human origins by light-years. A genealogical nexus stretching back nearly 4 billion years and now ranging from bacteria in rocks several miles under Earth's surface to the tip of the highest redwood tree, to human footprints on the moon. Can any tale of Zeus or Wotan top this? When truth value and visceral thrill thus combine, then indeed, as Darwin stated in closing his great book, 'there is grandeur in this view of life.' Let us praise this evolutionary nexus - a far more stately mansion for the human soul than any pretty or parochial comfort ever conjured by our swollen neurology to obscure the source of our physical being, or to deny the natural substrate for our separate and complementary spiritual quest."

--Steven Jay Gould, quoting Charles Darwin

I suppose that if you are bound and determined to see negativity, despair, and bad art amidst such wonder and awe, you can find it. But that says more about you than it does about anything else.

April 1, 2008 at 03:05 PM · Issues of music and spirituality do not exist in separate cultural vacuums, so I consider it fair game.

But, I would like to point out that no one was compelled to respond to Jon's post. Were he a troll, the thing to do would be to ignore it. If this was a hijacking, the victims appear willing!

April 1, 2008 at 03:53 PM · Be it the last post, I'm still interested in the original question. Here are a few things I think most young people relate to:

1. A driving beat/pulse (and that is absolutely number one on the list over everything else no matter what)

2. An interesting and powerful bass line

3. A singable melody

4. Energy and Enthusiasm

5. Humor and Wit

6. Freedom

That's the formula and it's as old as the hills. The more you stray from the formula, the less likely you are to be a relatable artform. If this weren't the last post, I would be bracing myself to go down in a blaze of glory ;-)

As a side note, my tweens are constantly making fun of the classical music station announcers. They have a special "classical music dj" voice that never fails to make all of their friends erupt in laughter. I'm sorry to say it, but it's the truth. The classical DJ's don't bother older folks though, so I'd say classical music stations are hitting their target market and teenage kids are not it.

March 31, 2008 at 06:13 PM · Unfortunately, Nicole, there are always some people who feed trolls ;-)

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