Lately, we’re all talking a lot about how to keep classical music relevant. There are a lot of great bloggers on this topic (Greg Sandow, Alex Ross, Eric Edberg spring to mind). All of them are musicians or critics themselves.
It has occurred to me recently: what if we’re talking to the wrong people? We’re so eager to broaden the audience for our music, to create enthusiastic fans in every corner of our communities — but we seem to remain stuck in our little subfield, unable to reach out. Even as we choose where to hang posters for our upcoming AMBITION concert, it can feel a bit like we’re self-segregating, unsure how to break in with the average coffeeshop crowd in Andersonville or Ravenswood.
I’m beginning to feel I should stop reading classical music bloggers (briefly) and talk to nonmusicians in my community. And I have a feeling there could be a lot of synthesis between the two groups.
I’m going to start having these conversations in the weeks to come. For example, we’ve been talking about starting a partnership with All Saints Episcopal Church in Ravenswood. They have a great music director and a beautiful space, and they do awesome social justice work. But how does a string quartet best partner up with a church?
The foundational question we might ask is: How can music be a part of what you do here? Same with a public library. How can music be a part of what you do here? This can, and should, go way beyond simply serving as a venue for a traditional concert.
And conversely: how can this church, this library, this cafe, this park, this museum, be a part of what WE do as a quartet?
It’s such a simple idea, but it’s been an exciting one for me recently. Ok, so who’s got some ideas? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter.
Photo by Shawn Kelly, at our 2010 performance at Uncommon Ground.