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
Both the LSO and London itself need and deserve a new concert hall – one that is fitting for the future of the city’s prestigious musical life and one that makes sense for the sake of its own success. It should be a beautiful and harmonious part of the face and community of London, and not a thumb in its eye and a middle finger to everyone else.
We are shaped not only by music, but also by our opinions about music. It is all the more important to revisit the connection between music and moral education in a culture like ours, steeped as it is in self-indulgence and vulgarity. The study of music as a liberal art gives students an extended opportunity to scrutinize their opinions – and to confront the causes and effects of their passions.
We must be prepared to show young people that the coal face from which their addictive songs have been chipped contains other, more beautiful and more interesting seams of meaning, and that behind the glittering surface lie treasures that are worth far more than the superficial dross.
It shouldn’t surprise us that orchestras are distancing themselves from the idea of luxury. We generally and perhaps rightly sense that there is something wrong with it. The most obvious reason is the uncomfortable fact that luxury represents a category that might necessarily exclude us – or indeed anybody. That, of course, does not describe classical music.
Self-criticism is a virtue, and part of what distinguishes Western civilisation from its more evident rivals. At a certain stage, however, and for no apparent reason, self-criticism gave way to repudiation.
We asked our major donors directly if we could count on their continued financial support for the downsizing plan to become a regional orchestra. The results were unanimous: nobody would give us the same amount or anything close to it for a lesser orchestra. Most wouldn’t contribute anything at all. We were built on excellence and that’s what we needed to be.
The famous French writer Alexis de Tocqueville discerned a permanent danger, which he described in these terms: the tyranny of the majority – that is to say, the danger that every public decision will be taken by the majority for the majority and disregard both the rights of minorities and the possibility of disagreement.
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.
Please consider joining us in support of this worthy cause.