A recent article at the online Huffington Post contributed another point of view on the persistent question, “Who Cares About Classical Music?” You might find the writer’s thoughts of interest, as we did here at WDAV. You can read the article here.
A colleague of mine is a highly sought consultant for radio stations of all types of formats. She believes the change in classical music’s profile is at least partly due to what she sees as a well-documented shift in the last 50 years from a parental culture, which valued authority and institutions, to a peer culture, where everyone is an authority on his own desires and values. She doesn’t think that’s a bad thing, necessarily; it simply means you need to relate to people differently.
Another factor may be that our culture, in general, no longer distinguishes between high art and low art. The brilliant contemporary novelist Michael Chabon made this point in a recent interview. That’s why, although he won a Pulitzer prize for one of his novels, he was also one of the screenwriters of Spider-Man 2.
There’s been a fair amount of research done in the public radio industry into the “core values” of classical music listeners. This research has convinced me that listeners who seek out classical radio, in general, are in a sense actively rebelling against the predominant cultural aesthetic. They want to reconnect with a time when there were clearly defined standards of excellence and taste. Yet at the same time they can’t help being part of the current culture, and in general expect to be treated as equals, not as pupils.
As you can probably tell, I think a lot about this kind of stuff. Probably too much, but it’s something of an occupational hazard, and the articles and essays about classical music’s imminent demise are frequent and inescapable.
That’s why it would be interesting to hear your views. So, as always, you’re invited to share.