I come from a small town in NC. I play in several regional orchestras,
with many of them waning in interest. The older generation is decreasing
in population and none are there to replace their stream of patronage.
Additionally, the corporate sponsorships are becoming much more limited,
if they are there at all. But more importantly, we are looking at a new
generation of would be orchestra attendees, of which many have never
experienced classical music outside of public school education, if even
then. This generation knows only of the popular music of the last 2 or
3 decades, while forgoing the 'pop' music of the baroque, classical, and
romantic eras. It is for this reason that music must be taught in our
schools, and that from a historical, mathematical, and scientific
perspective to show relevance to other subjects.
Is there hope?
I teach a community college class in music appreciation with a variety
of ages. Very few have heard any significant sample of classical music,
unless by way of a tune that is unknowingly slipped in here and there
in a movie or commercial (can anyone count the number of times that
O Fortuna has been heard in a score???... yes, then they recognize
something). They are required to submit a review of 4 live classical
performances. Every single semester I have taught there is at least one
student who comes back thanking me for the requirement that they attend.
And after the semester, some want a list of performances that they can
continue to attend.. of their own free will. Nothing thrills me more
than to have one more person interested in what we all know to be a
vastly rich art form.
Yes indeed, there is hope. But education is the key. What did people
do for fun in 1750? Why shouldn't that history class about the Reformation
be relevant to music? Why can't we talk about the scientific basis for
the overtone series? Why can't we talk about how the formal structure
of a classical symphony much like the formal etiquette of the 18th
Yes, we are on a mission of sorts, but not only to save the works of
the master composers of the last 50 years. We have a duty to defend
the lively hood of the composers of that walk our streets today.
So ask yourself, what would Bach do?