On Conducting 12

I have decided that it is a good idea not to have headings for these excursions of mine since I have been reading the formidable articles by Ted Gioia on his excellent Substack site entitled, The Honest Broker. The breadth and expertise of his writings, let alone his encycopedic knowledge of the Jazz repertoire is simple astounding. What may you ask is the relevance of this to Conducting?

The answer is embedded within the range and scope of the topics and musical idioms that come under Mr. Gioia’s gaze – if not microscope. As a musician, Ted is not delimited by his core Jazz expertise but by the intricate synaptic connections he makes across the entire gamut of the music industry. He is also not, as the Australian expression goes, “afraid to call a shovel a spade” when his ire is raised.

This leads to consider why the ‘Classical Music Industry’ – a term Richard Tognetti from the marvellous Australian Chamber Orchestra would argue now means nothing at all – seems unable to make similar neuronal associations toward solving the malaise of disinterest in falling audiences for orchestral concerts?

But is this true? The current season of the BBC Proms currently in full-swing is selling tickets in proverbial bucket loads – and audience reaction is, overall, ecstatic.

So we have a conundrum. It’s an age-old tension; a battle for supremacy between playing blockbuster warhorses and popular party-pleasers, as opposed to – and here is the elephant in the room to serve as the example – no-one wanting to go and see Simon Rattle conduct the first-ever complete concert performance of Schumann’s Das Paradies und die Peri on August 22 in Prom No. 49.

Cue great gnashing of teeth and projections of doom and gloom!

So here is a bit of news that might stagger some of my conducting colleagues – I don’t know anything about this work by Robert Schumann. Now, whereas if I was in London on that date, I would go simply out of curiosity, why would any person from the general public make any effort to go and see a part-oratorio – part-opera (even that terminology is problematic) that’s never been previously put together for a public airing?

No reason at all. And, by the way, Crystal Palace plays Arsenal on the same day in the new English Premiere League season, so this concert is going to interfere with Pub drinking time after the game – and we can’t have that!

In short, until we give audiences a reason to do anything, their discretionary leisure time will be appropriated by ANY other event that has a higher promotional profile – and let’s face it almost any other event has a higher profile than a classical music concert – except The Proms!

Come on folks, we’re smarter than this.

Kevin is now represented in North America by: