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Next, the audiences.

They have become used to the visceral, sexually charged, emotional laden manner of pop/rock music. This kind of music aims at different things from classical music. It is not the worse for that. Anyone with half a brain and heart will have to be touched by some rock poetry, thrilled by some jazz players and so sexually charged by some rock music that, in the immortal words of a columnist for FFWD, he will want to commit murder and hump a couch. That's what it is supposed to do.

But classical music is not supposed to do this. It is supposed to ennoble and spiritualize. Postmodern deconstructionalists, scientific reductionism and philosophic skepticism notwithstanding, the spiritual element of Classical music from Palestrina to Busoni is paramount. It is supposed to raise one's soul to a higher realm.

If it does not do this, then it is next to nothing. Sadly, most performances do not do this and most listeners do not come with the preparation (or expectation) that that is what they should be doing, aiming for or achieving.

Not long ago I had the sad fate to attend a lecture recital where one of the masterpieces of modern music was desiccated for the intellectual 'edification' of the audience after which followed a performance of the score. I am not sure which was more tedious, but audience members I met and spoke with were clearly suffering physical nausea brought on by tortuous tedium. That work, which should stun the listener and then transport them is now, for these poorer souls, just the worst nightmare. Those performers and that lecturer committed a crime against music that evening.

No, real spirituality is tough, invigorated and invigorating. It is the food for powerful, joyous living. It is a rare food, but all the more valuable for that. As long as orchestras serve up junk food they will fail in the end. Real food is another thing altogether.

Copyright © 27 December 2002 Gordon Rumson, Calgary, Alberta, Canada




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