Many suggest that classical music must remain antithetical to popular culture, adding that this music isn’t meant for everyone— neither for young adults (music students excepted), nor for ethnic minorities — and therefore institutions should not waste precious resources chasing communities that are not likely to buy tickets or donate. Fortunately, today there are many advocates and grant programs and fellowships for extending classical music quite broadly, with exposure, teaching, engagement and participation. Our Knight Foundation grant and Rick Robinson’s Kresge Fellowship in Detroit are two examples. Who doesn’t deserve beautiful, shaped and dramatic classical music?
Today we learn that classical music was less formal as it developed. European chamber music began leaving the casual and intimate chamber settings about 130 years ago, to upscale as a formal musical communion for larger, knowledgeable audiences. Presenters today remain hesitant to loosen the world-class standards to draw a casually if rough public. After all, the goal of a concert hall is to focus listening, akin to meditation. And so resetting the context of classical music for newcomers would seem to be a new art form.