03. June 2006 · Comments Off · Categories: imported, Ramble

Allan Kozinn thinks we are doing great here in Classical Music Land. ACD thinks he’s living in Pollyanna Land. Terry Teachout would be happy never attending another symphony concert, preferring to do the Symphony Thing in the privacy of his own home. Greg Sandow, if I understand him correctly, thinks Kozinn isn’t quite on the mark, and also thinks (again, if I’m understanding correctly) that we need to liven things up, smile and move around when we play, do pop music, and have fun little things going on while we play. For instance, shave a head or something, while playing something from Samson and Delilah.

Sigh.

So what does all this mean?

To me it means that people are talking and debating classical music’s demise. Some seem to be hoping to talk it into extinction. Others seem to think classical music is stronger than it’s ever been.

And of course a whole heck of a lot of people simply don’t care.

Me? I think we are what we are. I think it’s a good idea to try new things, but it’s a bad idea to try new things that are silly, cheap, or make us the laughing stock of the younger generation because we are trying so hard to be hip with a non-hip product. There’s a reason popular music is called popular. We aren’t pop music. There’s pop fiction. There’s pop culture. Fine. Let them be. They are popular now. They will not be popular later. Eventually they’ll either be gone all together, or move into the “classic” realm.

Sorry for the ramble … I’m thinking in writing here and much might not make sense. But I’m good for a ramble and I’m not concerned about how lovely my writing is. (I’d love to be Jeremy Denk—I think he writes beautifully—but I’m just not gonna be. Sigh.)

So here’s something:
When I was younger I didn’t like certain foods. I didn’t like strawberries. I didn’t like tomatoes. I didn’t like asparagus.

Strawberries: I hated those seeds! And the flavor? I could do without the strawberry flavor. Really. But now? Now I enjoy a strawberry just fine. I don’t desire strawberries, but I like them, and I’m happy to eat them.

Tomatoes: I hated tomatoes as a kid. They sent shivers up my spine if I tasted them. I even told one family I was allergic to them to avoid eating them. (Sorry Mom & Dad … I really did lie. Bad, bad me.) Funny thing was I enjoyed tomato aspic, tomato soup, and ketchup. And now? I still hate tomatoes. With a passion. I like bruschetta, though, so I’m hoping that counts for something.

Asparagus: Oh yes, I hated asparagus. Thing is, I had never even tried asparagus! But I hated it anyway. When I finally was introduced to it … by actually eating the stuff, I found out I loved the veggie. And I still do. Very much.

So … classical music can be strawberries, tomatoes or asparagus to folks, you know? This means you introduce it to people and see what happens. Now I think a lot of folks are in the “strawberry field” (sorry … well, not really!), and after hearing a symphony concert for the first time they can take or leave classical music. It doesn’t bug ‘em, but it’s not exactly a must have all the time either. That’s okay. They’ll come when they feel like it. We can deal with that, can’t we?

Those asparagus folks are great once they’ve been bitten by the classical music bug. They didn’t know what they loved only because they hadn’t tried it. Once they try it they can’t stop talking about it and try to get their friends to try it too. They are our biggest supporters and I recognize a lot of them in the symphony hall.

The tomato group? Whatever. They still might change, but meanwhile I like to tease them when they tell me they hate symphony music but then talk about some film score they love, because many of those scores are closer to classical than pop. But really, there are just some folks who aren’t going to like what I do. I can live with that.

Of course just because classical music might be a tomato to someone doesn’t mean we quit trying all together. My husband still attempts to get me to like a home grown tomato now and then. And maybe someday …? Who can say? (But I certainly have my doubts!)

And then there’s that other food: Chocolate! Ah yes … I loved chocolate the minute I was introduced to it and I crave it. And there are some—a very few some—for whom classical music is chocolate. A lot of the chocolate people are on stage, though; if one is bitten by the classical music bug early, one usually attempts to participate.

Me? I think I’ll have some asparagus, and then maybe a chocolate sundae with strawberries on top. Skip the darn tomatoes. Or maybe throw ‘em at a bad musician. ;-)

Sorry for the silly ramble. This is what happens when I have a couple of cancelled lessons and a bit ‘o time on my hands!
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