The best way to get your point across and grab the attention of the reader to make a connection right away. So, many critics find a point of agreement as their topic sentence. But that's where so many critics run into trouble -- the generalization.
I know, I know. It's just an innocent comment, but really...does it serve any purpose at all, other than to reinforce the idea that contemporary music is generally awful? Anne Midgette is an excellent critic, and I expect better from her on the fundamental issues like this one.
I mean, I understand. But sometimes...you know...[sigh].
Take it away, Anne.
If you want to scare off an audience,...
Wait for it...
If you want to scare off an audience, offer contemporary music.
Nailed it. Couldn't agree more. Yep, contemporary music is awful. And now that I think about it, classical music is boring, also. Which begs the question why anyone would ever program that new music garbage?
Oh, wait. Could it be that's a gross generalization that reflects antiquated thinking? The casting of an audience as a single, like-minded organism is so very lazy. I think it's safe to say that not all of us regular symphony patrons like the same music. Some of us want nothing more than to hear contemporary music often (very often) at the symphony, and to never hear the Bruch Violin Concerto ever again (for example).
I know -- we don't count. There's only so much information that can be included in your standard stereotype, so it's easier to ignore the minority and make all arguments as though we don't exist. But we do exist. And the problem is, at least as is my experience, some of us will purposefully avoid your average symphonic tripe on a regular basis, nearly assuring that we'll never feel connected to these institutions.
But the strange part (and the most reassuring part as well) is that while critics like Ms. Midgette (and actually I read Ms. Midgette quite often, so I know she's much better than this) dwell in the delusion about the awfulness of contemporary music, orchestras are smarter. It no longer makes sense to generalize about the attitudes of audiences, especially as the new garde of conductors -- Marin Alsop in Baltimore, Gustavo Dudamel in LA, David Robertson in St. Louis, Robert Spano in Atlanta -- all make programming contemporary music part of their missions. How is it that these people, who need to schmooze the blue hairs on a nearly daily basis as part of their very livelihood, are further ahead of the curve on this issue than music critics? Seriously. It's time for a new cliche.
Oh, but I cut you off. Contemporary music scares audiences, but...
If you want to soothe it, offer George Gershwin.
Well, I would have said Beethoven, but 20th century American music is a good call too.
Read the full article here:
Concert review: Post-Classical Ensemble's 'Gershwin Project' at Clarice Smith Center
Anne Midgette, The Washington Post, September 23, 2010