Think all classical musicians are old and dusty, playing sonatas in symphony halls somewhere? You haven’t met the musicians slated for this year’s Impulse Artist Series: The Alter Ego Season, a weeklong slate of concerts that will take place in various locations throughout the city. There’s Kris Becker, a pianist who’s played Carnegie Hall and who tours as a rock keyboardist and composes nu-classical music. He’s joined by fellow pianist and multimedia artist Phyllis Chen, who often performs the works of 20th-century composers on toy pianos, boom boxes and other nontraditional instruments. Suresh Singaratnam plays both classical and jazz trumpet. “He does ‘Flight of the Bumblebee’ and all that,” says pianist/Impulse Artist Series executive director Jade Simmons, who organized the series. “But he does so much more as well.” And finally, there’s Brandee Younger, who plays the harp. “You think of that as an instrument for only classical music, but she makes the bulk of her living as a jazz and hip-hop musician.”


I might be older, but I am not dusty. I am now a bit grumpy, though. This is not the first thing I’ve read that disses older musicians.

Found at the site for Impulse Artist Series:

“Replacing the stuffy, staid collection of classical music dead guys in white wigs with fresh, young, cutting-edge musicians.”

Gee, I’ve YET to see any dead guys in white wigs play in any concerts I’ve been in. How ’bout you?


  1. Second, third and fourth your grumble.

    Or was that agreeing in seconds, thirds and fourths…?

  2. I’m reading this stuff more and more. It drives me nuts. It probably even causes gray hairs. Sigh.

  3. I’m incensed by that attitude – and it will be reflected in my patronage. Not a cent or additional moment of attention (or respect) of mine will go to any artist or organization which insults the very people who have supported most of them. Without the gimmicks, how many could make it on talent alone?

  4. I’m right there with you, Janet. There are wonderful ways to market music done by younger artists, but insulting older ones is NOT a wonderful way. It shouldn’t be a way at all.

  5. OK, to be fair, the quote about dead guys in white wigs wasn’t penned by the Impulse people but by the local newspaper. They did, however, choose to highlight it.

    What I find most ludicrous, though, is their statement that just-post-conservatory students are at the height/peak of their artistic and creative development. Nobody’s at the peak of their creative development in their early 20’s. Nobody. Artistic maturity takes time and experiences. The indisputable energy of youth alone can’t substitute for those. I have no doubt that all the musicians on that list are well worth hearing now; I also have no doubt that those who truly have something to contribute to their art form will be even more so in 10 and 20 years.

  6. … when Impulse will have long since tossed them aside as yesterday’s news.

  7. And how sad it would be if this IS their moment, their height, eh? What will they do for the remainder of their (very likely) long lives?

    Thanks, “patti with an i” … you write clearly and so much better about all of this than I. I merely react, cringe, whine … but putting it all into words doesn’t appear to be my talent. Hmmm. Perhaps YOU should be the one with the blog! 🙂

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  9. Hello All,

    This is Jade Simmons writing, founder of The Impulse Artist Series. Just wanted you to know I appreciate very much your sentiment. The discussion here is a bit ironic b/c Impulse caters to the emerging artist who has been in many ways tossed aside because they are no longer 15 year old prodigies! We’re actually the old and dusty crew according to much of the marketing out there! Impulse exists to provide performance opportunities and career building assistance for aspiring concert artists who are not old enough to be considered legends of the stage but no longer young enough to be considered wunderkind. We’re proud that our audiences are extremely diverse in age, social spectrum and ethnicity and I think this is what those reporters were trying to praise us for, though their description does indeed make it look like we don’t appreciate the traditional (or older) audience and that’s definitely not the case. We do highlight the “stuffy,staid” quote because, like it or not, that is the stereotypical IMAGE of what classical music is, even though it is NOT what Classical music is. Impulse is proud to dispel that negative imagery. But mainly, we just want to provide a space for extremely talented emerging artists. We also provide a career building seminar so they can have a part in controlling their destinies as artists. I’m sure we can all agree that’s a worthy cause. If you’re in Houston, stop by and see for yourself what Impulse is all about. Don’t just take one reporter’s description.

    ps I’ll look into that quote about young artists being “at the height” of creative development. That’s not a quote that I support and if it’s on our website, it won’t be for much longer. Thanks for all the feedback.

  10. Pingback: Jade Simmons Responds « oboeinsight