At long last, and with hearts full of thanks for those who have helped us along the way, we invite you to begin this journey with us towards a new vision, a new renaissance, for live classical music. It is at once a journey of discovery and a journey home – much like music itself in that we can know a piece intimately, even all our life, and yet be astonished by some new revelation each time we hear it performed. We think this is one of the most magical and rewarding things about music, about our work, and about life. Closely behind it follows the joy of sharing such a journey. And we look forward to your company and conversation as we go.
New & Noteworthy
The symphonic tradition, and Beethoven’s monumental impact on it, is an imposing legacy which looms like a giant ghost over the shoulder of any living composer foolhardy enough to consider adding to it. Some turn away in terror and even disdain, preferring to carve out a rejectionary stance. It might be the safer option.
The sort of art that lives eternally is that which captures astonishing, spine-chilling, breathtaking beauty that heightens our senses and floods us with transforming thought and emotion. In this work, we hear a whisper from another world saying, “It’s all real.”
It is very possible that the music academy, if it harkens to the shouts echoing all around it and proceeds in the proposed march toward reform and “progress,” will pass by the art academy as it hastens back to that crossroads where it took a wrong turn. It is very possible that, by chasing “relevance,” our conservatories, like our art schools before them, will make themselves irrelevant.
At issue, of course, is the fact that the purpose of the traditional music education is to prepare students to participate and collaborate in “the performance and analysis of European classical repertory” at its highest levels. The modern tendency is to see that emphasis as not only a slight to those who will fail to achieve those ends, but as a real offense to those who reject that purpose and the primacy of the European classical canon itself.
It’s starting to sound like a self-evident truth: there is, indeed, something very wrong with the state of higher music education in this country – that it’s not sufficient anymore for music schools to turn out graduates who are merely good or even exceptional classical musicians. That, we are assured, is not enough for an aspiring musician to get by on in the modern world.
Beyond getting a fair opportunity to attempt, it is now held that individuals have the right to be artists, or at least consider themselves as such. And there is a certain undeniable cachet attached to this. This approach, tantamount to a latter-day Marie Antoinette waving off the crowds by saying “Let them make art,” trivializes all art by removing distinctions of quality.
Classical music and architecture are analogous, not just because they reflect one another, but because they reflect us and the way our minds work. It should come as no surprise, then, that both music and architecture today are engaged in retrieving their respective traditional languages: melody, tonality, proportion, ornament, the classical orders—the whole lot.
With the appointment of Sir Simon Rattle as the new music director of the grandest of London's many great orchestras come the excited whispers about the possibility of a new concert hall for the city's brilliant but beleaguered classical music scene. It is not too early to begin the conversation about how to imagine and understand such a hall – or to late to assert how badly indeed it is needed. Here we will collect the thoughts and dialogues on the subject that we hope will make a difference in the debate that will inevitably to ensue.
Ours is a musical culture. People of all musical tastes and backgrounds understand this. Music marks the passage of our moods, our days, our seasons, our years, and our lives. It brings us together, and it marks out our solitude. It celebrates our achievements and mourns our losses.
And the music itself is common property to all. It is not like, say, a painting that is sold and then belongs only to the purchaser, to hang over a sofa or in a private collection, perhaps to end up one day in a public gallery. You cannot buy a song or a symphony, only an instance of it. You cannot buy a box of chords or key signatures like you can a box of watercolors or pastels.
In fact, the music belongs even to those who haven’t heard it yet. We are trustees of an international treasure, obliged to understand the accident of our existence in this time and place more as a responsibility than an entitlement. This realization takes on a special meaning today for the defenders of music’s classical tradition.
For if it’s true that music is made of what you cannot buy, it is also true that a page of chords and key signatures is not what we enjoy when we enjoy music. We do not dance to sheets of paper covered with notes or recall a melody as ink markings on a staff. Music lives for us as a performance in which we partake, as musicians, as listeners, as dancers. And so the tradition of live performance is the heart of our classical tradition.
Our classical tradition, in turn, is at the heart of all our other musical traditions. What we are about is nothing less than the preservation, in trust, of the tradition of live classical music for the benefit of all posterity.
But we do need your help. Please consider joining us in support of this worthy cause.