Friday, November 2, 2012

Naxos, Laxos...

Recently interviewed by CBC Paolo Pietropaolo, host of the program In Concert on Radio 2, the founder of Naxos Records, Klaus Heymann was quizzed about the future of classical music.
What we have to do now is get those young people into concerts and into opera houses — and orchestras have to do more to make concerts attractive to young people. Why do the musicians have to wear tuxedos and all this formal attire? Why can’t they play for young people in jeans and T-shirts? If I just want to listen passively to music, I can do it at home. I can watch the Berlin Philharmonic digital concert hall in high definition surround sound in my home. Why go to a concert hall unless something is happening there?
As if what happened in a concert hall depended on the musicians' attire... Has the live experience of classical music become so dull and predictable, that the only way to save it depends on garments? What else? The brand of snacks sold at intermission?
There are the boards, which very often consist of elderly people who want the traditional overtures, concertos and symphonies with no clapping between movements and no clapping during the music. There are the musician unions who don’t want any change, and don’t want to go outside the concert hall to teach underprivileged children in schools. And then there are the reformers, who realize things have to change if orchestras are to survive.
No clapping DURING the music is a problem now? Really, is making noise during the performance considered LISTENING "actively" as opposed to "passively" when quiet? This line of advocacy must consider the act of listening in itself, without external demonstration, as an equivalent to sleeping to imagine that noises improve listening! Why not then record the music and the noises while at it, like audience laughter's in sitcoms, and see who'll buy that Naxos Beethoven comedy sonatas?

As for going to schools, my husband recalls vividly his experience in 1968, in France, in the public school of a communist run Paris suburb, when an orchestra visited the school and played an educational program about... Richard Wagner! It was fantastic so Heymann's reformers have not invented anything.

What's dying is a certain idea of the classical music business and it is those who drove it to the ground who are now trying to find scapegoats in order to mask their own lack of creativity in programming (where are Schnittke's symphonies?), their marketed flashy outfits, suggestive curves and name peddling, and forget about the only thing that will bring people to tears: content.