Can classical music have a good time?

Posted on: December 23, 2010

“There’s an active sense of non-enjoyment” in the world the contemporary classical music, says classical-music critic Tom Service in a wide-ranging talk he gave in October in Aberdeen, Scotland, the text of which was recently posted at the Scottish new-music website Sound. “The whole idea of ‘having a good time’ and ‘contemporary classical music’ are, alas!, phrases that are seldom found in the same sentence together… Contemporary classical music is often a culture—sub-culture is really more accurate—that consists mostly of people who want to criticize more than celebrate… The problem I’m dealing with is that there are still some composers, institutions, and ideologies out there who are laboring under the misapprehension that what they’re doing is the single true path, the way of the future, the sole route to enlightenment, and the real reflection of our times—and I think that those ways of thinking can perniciously permeate contemporary classical musical culture…. Being fearless is I think the key for the future for younger composers, whatever field they’re working in, from sound art to music for acoustic instruments… being unafraid to make noises, beats, harmonies, or melodies that breach the ivory towers of high modernism and connect with musics and audiences outside of that tradition… And there are signs everywhere of musicians doing just that.”

Posted December 23, 2010