More than one of you have sent links to an article in The New Republic wherein an interesting comparison is made in a discussion of the decline of American orchestras.
Here is a taste:
Dare’s comments were another contribution to a long argument about what classical music in America should be. For decades, the musical world has been going through its own protracted and painful Vatican II, initially driven by the assumption that the only thing that really ails the form is a superficial matter of liturgy and presentation. Conductors should turn away from the altar and face the congregants, speak in the vernacular, and forego white-tie-and-tails vestments. The service should be consumer-friendly. The process has liberated certain mavericks, and led to interesting experimentation. In the early 1970s, Pierre Boulez, then the music director of the New York Philharmonic, inaugurated his “rug concerts,” removing the seats from the acoustically inert Philharmonic Hall and inviting listeners to recline on carpets and cushions. “There is so much formality involved in the performance of music that we make it hard for audiences to get emotionally involved,” he said at the time.
But the same process also led to a severe dilution of the reverential aura surrounding music, and with it the implicit power of conductors to curate the concert experience. Like Vatican II, it brought on a severe crisis of confidence within the Church, and worse, it has not stemmed the decline in audience attendance or improved the financial bottom line. [BINGO!] One striking thing about the League’s annual navel-gazing in June was how many top orchestra leaders acknowledge that many of their innovations—educational programs, diversity and outreach efforts, musical healing events at hospitals and hospices, community concerts away from the orchestra hall—have not yielded anything encouraging when it comes to enticing new audiences. “But it’s the right thing to do,” they say, regardless.
The future of the American orchestra may well look like the Church after Vatican II, a contest between “progressives,” who believe, as Rosen suggests, that “the concert is not what it’s really about,” and traditionalists, who search out the rare High Mass of real music or retreat to their home stereos and isolation. The best hope for the latter is still big-city orchestras that must for now cater to an older, more traditional audience, which includes serious listeners. [There it is.] But even that category—serious listeners—is an uncomfortable one for almost all orchestra leaders.
Read the rest there.
The deadly erosion of the vestiges of decorum continues apace.
With the erosion of decorum comes the erosion of beauty and of truth.
I have made the comparison of baby food and adult food elsewhere.