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National Classical-Music Summit

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Seattle Symphony music director Gerard Schwarz

Education is the future of classical music

By Melinda Bargreen
Seattle Times

During the past decade, reports about the impending death of classical music have arrived with such regularity that doom-saying is practically a full-time activity for several arts journalists.

Today's pop culture, they say, with the idol-of-the-moment TV spectaculars and the cult of celebrity – combined with the serious decline of music education in many school districts – has built a society in which classical music is terra incognita to most people. Concert activity, buoyed up by a handful of aging donors, is confined mainly to blue-haired dowagers who make their increasingly decrepit way to the halls in order to hear the same stale pieces performed by the same bored musicians.

Or so they say.

Attendees at a national classical-music summit held at Seattle University last month, however, had a whole span of quite different views. Presented jointly by Seattle U. and Bellevue Philharmonic CEO Jennifer McCausland, the summit brought in representatives from coast to coast – Carnegie Hall, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the San Francisco Symphony, The Washington Post, and several others – and described a classical-music industry that is doing considerably more than rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Most of them, in fact, took a line pretty close to that of moderator and Seattle Symphony music director Gerard Schwarz, whose introductory remarks included this observation: "This is the most positive time in my career for classical music. When I came to Seattle 25 years ago, the Symphony had 4,000 subscribers; now we have more than 35,000." And when you count education and community programs, the Symphony reaches 315,000 people a year.

Read more about this at the Seattle Times website:

   http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/thearts/2004280030_classical160.html

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