Challenging the insitutions: “Nonclassical” music from Gabriel Prokofie

Greg Sandow in the Wall Street Journal has a fantastic article about a composer breaking down the walls bewteen classical and pop audiences in New York.

His name is Prokofiev and yes he is related.  

As Sandow writes,

Earlier this year I heard Messiaen’s austere “Quartet for the End of Time” on a bill with two ambient electronic pop acts. The crowd — many of whom wouldn’t even have known who Messiaen was — sat in rapt silence, and roared their approval at the end.

Sandow goes on to ask:

What about it, Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall and the New York Philharmonic? Don’t you care about this new young audience? Lincoln Center, to be fair, has presented some of the alternative classical music I’m describing here, but it hasn’t attracted the alternative classical crowd. Why not?

Why not indeed? It’s something the orchestras and performign arts centres of Australia might also ask (though to be fair to the Sydney Opera House, its Studio venue has been presenting cross-over music of this kind for many years.)

$1 billion to renovate the Opera House

Both Marcus Westbury and Nick Pickard lead their blogs with strongly critical posts about recent reports that the NSW government is about to commit to spending $1 billion to renovate Joern Utzon’s iconic Sydney Opera House.

As Westbury writes, “this decision is one that is so staggeringly out of touch with the realities of cultural policy at the moment that it is scary.”

As usual, I find myself in agreement with much of what Marcus writes (more of that below). However, I think there is every reason to be far more optimistic about this decision than the initial outrage from the various unfunded parts of the arts community suggests. It may be that this decision will actually materially advance the cultural policy debate in Australia, by motivating the various forgotten voices in the arts community to finally coalesce into a coherent movement for change.

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