Tag Archives: Joe Wiedemann

classical music, conductor, philip glass, john cage, eric whitacre, john williams, orchestra

Music That Evolves


Lots of things Evolve: history, landscapes, relationships, your entire life! Even the size, shape and character of the universe is constantly changing. It’s all a work in progress, with Mother Nature leaving nothing stationary. The music itself Evolves from chaos to beauty. Evolve chronicles the process, which is similar for all of the above, and more. Pick something you’re familiar with that is still evolving, and listen along for stages and turning points.

Examples:

-The Universe Evolves: from perfect silence and nothingness, a slight little wobble off balance of the most basic chemical elements leads to a building tension. When they can no longer contain themselves, they erupt into a violent explosion that sets everything (and I mean “everything’) in motion. Chaos and disorganization spews out from the center with no rhyme, reason or destination, until stars can fly without constantly hitting each other, and things finally start to settle down.
There’s still very little sense to things, but gravity takes hold and begins to form galaxies, systems and spheres. From a distance, beauty takes shape but up close, the volcanic turmoil continues. Even after much time, landscapes cool, but trouble still bubbles beneath. Always changing, but in smaller ways, predictable patterns of shapes and currents become beauty and wonder. Though the music ends at this point, there may still be more to come.

-A Life Evolves: a microscopic change of plans bursts into an unstoppable and multifaceted explosion of growth. It takes some time before a recognizable form takes place, but even childhood awkwardness goes from cute to brilliant over time. As we all know, unsettled stages of turmoil can come at any time, and usually do. Often torn between our impulsive youth and a responsible future, years of emotional peaks and valleys lie ahead. Maturity usually brings a little order, confidence and stability.

-Relationships Evolve: An often directionless chance meeting can lead from one thing to another. Discovering another’s personality is challenging, yet inspiring. Held together by a personal gravity, navigating the twists and turns is fraught with emotion and tension. Periods of bliss regenerate the experience, and help us through tough times. Experience and familiarity brings happiness.

-Humanity Evolves: We all know the physical changes man has made since the amoeba, but when you follow that with thousands of years of intellectual development, historical upheaval and wars, our own work in progress seems like only few moments in time. From a daily struggle for survival, to periods of invention and industry. From dark ages and enlightenment, to Teslas and terror. It sometimes seems like one step forward, and one step back. This too, is still playing out in search of nirvana.

-Music Evolves: from ancient dissonant noisemakers and unpitched instruments, came rhythms and simple, crude and imperfect melodies. Beneath it all was the natural beauty of harmony rooted in physical science. Musicians and composers can only marvel at its impact, and try to unlock its secrets. That holy grail of reaching the perfect aural sunset, is often at the end of a very difficult road. But, beauty is often fleeting, and the forces of nature keep things moving. So, once the goal is in sight, it’s easier to plot a path to that golden sunset moment.

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The Classical Music Recession

Is classical music on life support, or simply in a cyclical recession? Certainly, its long history of survival beyond the lifespans of other types of popular music, doesn’t foreshadow an early demise. But it may be facing some significant health issues, such as aging benefactors, and a technological upheaval of its current business model.

It’s a form with a short list of superstars, unlike rock or pop. Lang Lang and Joshua Bell can guarantee a sellout. And, while you may face a waiting list of at least 6-years to see the Vienna Phil, your local orchestra may be giving away tickets to fill seats.

It’s no secret that many of the people now filling those seats are of generations that can’t keep going to concerts forever. Sure, younger ones turn out for the big names, but who will attend the next show, after Lang Lang has left town?

The aging concertgoers are often the most generous financial contributors. This could spell budgetary doom in the near future.

Money that classical ensembles once counted on from sales of recordings, is also drying up, thanks to the changing technology of music distribution. Streaming royalties are negligible compared to the profit margin from a cd sale.

You Tube has become a popular means of music discovery and free entertainment. While that can be good and bad, sparking new interest in classical might draw new audiences to live performances, or viewers may be content to watch from home for free.

So, now the question becomes, can classical find a new business model, as it has before? Some local groups are reaching out to a much younger audience, requiring musicians to spend plenty of hours in schools and other mentoring functions. Engage them while they’re young, and have many years of classical enjoyment ahead. Though it may be many years before they replace the current donors, the seeds are being planted.

But, what to do in the meantime? Even the next-up demographic expected to provide financial support, grew up with Michael Jackson, Cheap Trick, Madonna and U2. It’s going to take some doing to bring them under the tent as converts. A more contemporary program and image may be necessary. Shedding the white tie and tails could be a start.

No one seems to appreciate classical more than musicians, because it’s the most popular music for instruction. A Suzuki Violin 2nd-grader is more likely to be a classical lover than his/her non-musician parents with ipods full of Mariah Carey and Eminem.

It would be easy to say that schools are the answer to classical’s problems, but school districts in recession have cut music programs. This reduces, not only interest in classical music, but the number of classically trained musicians for the future.

The current business model that keeps classical music playing, is definitely in trouble. It may be a very long recovery. The quality of the product though, has never suffered, so the art itself will surely be with us for centuries more.

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The Future of Classical Music

Symphony Orchestra Conductor
Classical Music for the Future

This is a new Blog, to discuss the future of classical music, in homes, in education, in entertainment and in our lives.  The proliferation of free music on demand, and declining demographics for concertgoers in some areas, threatens the viability of the classical music industry.   Even more, the decline in demand for new orchestral music, stifles its evolution.

More to come…