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A lovely concept, totally unlike the class consciousness that has even crept into some areas of the musical profession here in Britain. 'I agree, it is most unhelpful, with that feeling of "them and us" between conductors and orchestras at certain levels. The survival of music, which is by no means assured, depends upon all musicians being powerfully loyal to each other and what we do. It's very important that we don't lose sight of the fact that 95% of the population wouldn't know or bother if all of this went down the tubes tomorrow. We do need to change that; and you don't do it by being critical of each other, but by saying that what we do is very special, and if you don't come along you're missing something. We advise you to see what it's like. I have this programme on Classic fm called "Master Class" that always uses live music where audiences span every possible class, and it democratizes our idea of what a classical music listener is. Audiences at major London concert halls is generally middle-aged and middle class, and we have an enormous duty to dissuade people from the idea that music of the classical persuasion is more comprehensible to those kind of people than anybody else. Mozart's Jupiter Symphony speaks very directly to a 15-year-old working class boy if you can get him into the hall by leaving his prejudices outside. Handcuff him to his seat and get him to listen with an open mind, and he would not go away saying "that's boring". Simon has done it in Birmingham, where the audience is not at all the same as in London. We should project to people who have never been to a concert that they do not require to be touched by some mystic trumpeter in order to understand.' A mixed bag, fairly easy to absorb ... 'And not too long, as concentration of a continuous sort is very hard to find. I remember that Boult was fascinated by this when I was going to hear Götterdämmerung for the very first time, feeling quite daunted having to concentrate for 4 or 5 hours without letting my attention wander: "Oh, I always have dinner either in the 2nd Act or the 3rd, but normally, I get tickets for two performances, and have dinner in the 2nd one night, the 3rd the next!" Now, he had a focus of concentration that I've never seen matched by anybody, and if he felt that it was necessary to take a break at some stage, I think we can all feel better'.

Copyright © 15 August 2000 Bill Newman, Edgware, UK




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