Thursday, 21 June 2007

Real Estate

cyntillating sounds opus eight:
In reaction to a call for comments by the American Symphony Orchestra League Congress now taking place in Nashville, Tennessee.

Let’s put it all into perspective, please. In 18, yes EIGHTEEN, 88 (1888), the Boston Pops was founded to “attract a broader public with lighter musical fare”. Now that we are down the line a bit, say a mere 120 years, we are still searching for a broader public for classical music, but we are now, unfortunately, in fifth gear, ergo, panic mode.

Thank you, American Symphony Orchestra League Congress and Arts Journal, for this public conversation on Engaging Arts. As an American born arts manager working here in Europe, it is a refreshing way to discuss our common lot simultaneously in differing time zones.

Before leaving home this morning, in the erudite company of a chaired professor in musicology no less, one willing and even dedicated to accompanying eighty 11-12 year olds to a rehearsal for a classical concert, I printed out the first 86 pages of this now international discussion for good reading material in a commuter train full of kids (some of them with decidedly Euro-American DNA): The Netherlands Philharmonic was rehearsing for next Sunday’s concert, a bel canto extravaganza with diva Edita Gruberova, the grand finale in The Concertgebouw of this year’s 60th anniversary Holland Festival.

I look forward to reading the book that has initiated this discussion, surely. I anticipate the discussion as it unfolds this coming evening (afternoon for you in Nashville). I feel, however, that I must react to the blog as it has unfolded ‘til now.

We ‘here’ (and I assure you, the grass is always greener), as opposed to you ‘there’, complain to the government regularly that arts subsidies are not now quite sufficient to engage those ideal, broad publics (young, old, black, yellow, white and of course, red and purple and not speaking our specific language) as specified in our ‘targets’ for continued financial support. You ‘there’, as opposed to we ‘here’, complain that those said ideal publics are just not interested anymore (but whose fault is that, certainly not the true artist’s ). Ergo, despite the significant salt water pond between, classical music is complaining on both sides of the Atlantic about a decrease in interest. So we oldies webblog together to explore ways in Engaging Art.
I welcome the discussion, certainly, and yet, after reading 20% of the 86 pages produced up ‘til this moment (European time), I have yet to read the words I am yearning for:


‘Choices are overwhelming’ writes Douglas McLennan. Absolutely spot on.
But what if we cannot choose?

‘I insist on peak experiences’, he continues.
For sure, but maybe some kids have never, ever, had one.

‘technology rules’: certainly,
so why isn’t everyone interested in absolutely everything as absolutely everything is so easily accessible?

‘fan cultures’ are now supreme:
right again, but Lang Lang has a smaller following than Justin Timberlake…if only the difference was in perspective.

Ok, I admit, I finally did see the word I was breathlessly awaiting:


“When did education get separated from core programming?” queries Alan Brown.

Answer: never did, never will.

Some things worth learning need to be learned first to be appreciated.

A few pages later, Ed Cambron asks: ‘How do we deal with choice?’

I would prefer he asks: how do we deal with those unable to choose?
Answer: we educate them and in doing so, give them a choice.

Mr. Cambron goes on to suggest that an orchestra’s repeating a programme parallel to opera house schedules would work wonders. I precociously suggest, only if programmed parallel to a series of romantic sit-coms (would the world have fallen for Friends in just one season-?).
I would love to agree with Mr. Cambron, but reserve the right to hordes of tickets to those repeat performances for those yet to reach puberty and musically ‘challenged’ as it were. I gladly bequeath the same education on the school children of today that I was fortunate to have: one Grandmother enamoured of Richard Wagner, the other of Tony Bennett and a Mother who got to sing under Stravinsky and was in love with Nadia Boulanger. All of them made sure I attended the Boston Symphony Orchestra as often as possible, lovingly so, also making sure I watched ‘Uncle’ Lenny Bernstein on TV as well as the Ed Sullivan Show (where Tony B would perform from time to time).

Why? Because good music enriches you, it enlightens you, it can be thrilling. So irregardless of subsidies and patrons and ticket sales and careers, great music we cannot live without. And if we, the over forty crowd, are able to appreciate it, are able to choose it, it is because we have been exposed to it before we reached puberty, that decisive time in which we reject things in order to define ourselves in positive impulses.

In real estate, there are three keys to success: Location, Location and Location.

For engagement in the arts, there are but three keys to success:

Education, Education, Education.

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