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God bless the Child

img  Tobias

It's a tragedy, it's a sad thing, it's the demise of Western Culture - you guessed it, we're talking about the fact that less and less children and teenagers are listening to Classical Music. For over fourty years now (starting with the advent of Pop and Rock), people have regarded this as the main root of evil, as the source of the problem. The logic goes something like this: If people don't listen to Mozart and Co. when they're young, they won't listen to them when they're old. And: If they don't grow up on Classical Music, they will never be able to fully comprehend and enjoy it at a later stage.

Two ideas from recent news items hold ideas on how to improve on this situation. Firstly, Herbert Blomstedt, who has done a terrific job in Leipzig, has a very simple plan: Back to the "good old days"! According to Blomstedt, materialism and a "culture of enjoyment" have taken over from intellectual values. To him, the world needs to appreciate "seriousness" again, as only "seriousness can bring real pleasure". Education and the media have failed: The latter don't treat music with due respect and the former are simply accepting Pop Culture. Blomstedt's solution: The radio should feature more pieces played in full and more information about them. And parents should not sit idly by as their children indulge in MTV.

Another approach comes courtesy of the BBC. To build up future audiences for their "Proms", they have a whole catalogue of family-friendly dishes on the menu. First off, there's a free children's concert to be held at a special location, where one "wouldn't normally expect Classical Music". Secondly, there's ten select concerts, for which children can buy tickets at a steep discount. Thirdly, there's the Blue Peter Proms, moderated by the presentors of the "Blue Peter" children's TV-programme. Fourthly, there's a "BBC Family Prom" at Hyde Park. And finally, a learning project called "Violins!!" is bringing together hopeful talents with renowned stars of the scene. Doug Buist, marketing manager of the Proms, believes it's all about making a positive experience and breaking the initial resistance and the success of his ideas seems to prove him right.

Even though we're not sure whether schemes such as the one dug up by Doug Buist will atually make quite a lot of children go on to listen to Classical Music in their adolecence, they definitely serve a noble cause and might actually take a few parents to a Classical concert once in a while. It also brings the family back in the concert hall, sparking debate afterwards, which can not be a bad thing. But what about Blomstedt's plans? His tremendous acchievments at Leipzig prove one thing: You can mobilise the core group of Classical fans if you cater strictly to their interests. His criticism of the media is also not without reason - even though the problem hardly lies with the question of whether or not we need soccer-game-style commentary on symphonies. But his negative view of Pop and Rock music is once again building up the wall others are trying to tear down. Where does Blomstedt think this music came from in the first place? Pop and Rock are, at their heart, a cry for freedom from paternalism. Condemning them, especially using the same old (and wring) notions, will only make them stronger.

And now, decide for yourself

Source: Leipziger Volkszeitung
Source: This is Local London

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