Is classical music a dying art?
A recent guardian article by Vanessa Thorpe (5 September 2010) reported composer Jonathan Harvey’s fears that ‘British youth are alienated by the traditions that still dictate that classical music should be played to rows of silent, seated listeners’. Harvey, 71, one of the senior figures of classical music in Britain, says: ‘Nobody should be deprived of classical music, least of all by silly conventions’.
But will the removal these ‘silly conventions’ have the desired effect – will young people come rushing to the concert hall? Irish composer Raymond Deane comments; ‘These gimmicks might attract young people – although I doubt it, as I think the alienation is deeper than that – but they would certainly keep me out of the concert hall’ (Facebook debate, 5 September 2010).
VOCAL FUTURES seeks to turn the tide of popular opinion that classical music is dying out, and that it must be somehow compromised in order to remain fresh and exciting to the emerging generation. Suzi Digby, founder of Vocal Futures vehemently believes that ‘Dumbing down is not necessary and to be avoided at all costs’; that through a growing culture of immersion, robust education, and ‘electrifying’ world class performances, young people will be drawn into the music, and will ultimately be transformed by the experience.
In the words of composer Jim Aitchison:
…I sincerely hope that Vocal Futures will show us what we should all be doing…to start leading by example, striving to create audacious, excellent, substantial and rich musical experiences at the highest possible artistic level and doing so in a way that allows maximum opportunity for routes of entry but without any compromise in artistic aspiration. (Aitchison, September 2010)