You’ve Got to Admit It’s Getting Better

I’ve been staying up late into the night these past few days to make time to be one of the invited bloggers over at ArtsJournal for a four-day debate on whether classical music is in the best of times or the worst.

It’s a discussion well worth following and contributing to which you can do by visiting them. But I thought it might be interesting to get another discussion going here about what readers perceive to be the role of new American music versus the larger monolith of classical music now versus twenty years ago.

Classical music as a genre has been too fixated on the past—and that is how it has been mostly marketed to the general public to this day—so it goes to follow that most classical music enthusiasts would believe in yesterday more than in the here and now, but I’ve been experiencing a greater openness to new music than ever before both from audiences and the industry surrounding this music. There are more opportunities for performances, repeat performances, recordings, collaborations, you name it, and they are now frequently more successful than the standard fare, even at the most seemingly impenetrable places. A few months ago, the Metropolitan Opera announced more upcoming commissions than at any other time since Puccini was new music. And Carnegie Hall—I always used to sigh when people told the old joke: “How to you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice” (Hmm, not if all you do is new music). But now there’s a thriving new music scene in the basement thanks to Zankel Hall and it’s probably the most exciting part of the complex to be in most of the time, except when there’s a premiere in the main hall which is no longer such a rarity.

So does this mean everyone has finally started realizing that the future is what it should really be about?

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