As a chamber musician, I have a particular interest in how to deliver music, regardless of the genre, to all people. Teenagers may go to thrilling modern pop acts while older individuals may go to extraordinary orchestra concerts. Others may not participate in live music at all. In all cases, there is a huge amount of material escaping the ears of many. What can the modern performing artist do about this?
Atlanta Symphony Music Director Robert Spano addressed this very issue in a recent lecture at Kennesaw State University. He emphasized that connecting music to the population at large has always been a struggle of musicians, even in Beethoven’s day. Considering this, artists today have more avenues to highlight their work than ever before, including social media, high quality audio and video, and easily distributable content.
But how can we use modern technology as an effective tool for the arts? I believe it starts with a mission. So-called “YouTube celebrities” like “The Piano Guys,” for example, start with a unique mission that hasn’t been explored previously. The Piano Guys offer arrangements of modern music, blend pop elements with classical ideas, and produce stunning videos in very unique locations. Anyone that tries to imitate this, regardless of how well, will almost certainly appear as a cartoon to the original performers who acted on their creativity.
Creativity is not limited to the internet, although such is often the trend. Orchestras with struggling checkbooks need to look inside to see if what they do is really something interesting enough to spark the attention of people who may rather watch television on concert night. Our investment in communities through art can be limitless if we let go of tradition and look forward to the world of endless imagination.