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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
CALGARY PHILHARMONIC NEWS ITEM
PATRIC STANDFORD ON ORCHESTRAL PLAYERS