Saturday, March 5, 2011

Midwest Young Artists: The Importance of Music, Part I

Since I last blogged, we have had a weekend of concerts (February 19 & 20) and the Discover National Chamber Music Competition (February 27)! These concerts and events highlighted outstanding musical achievement and how hard students worked to attain this level of performance.  

The most interesting performance I observed was the Be Authentic!  Early and New Music concert which featured performances of the pieces written by winners of our 1st MYA Composition Contest.  Allan thought he’d have a couple of entries this year, but we ended up with 11!  The winning pieces were written for woodwind quintet, (Celebrations! by Bryan Sanoshy) and string quartet (Quartet No. 1 by Tyler Katz).   I say “written,” but probably “created” is a better term.   An avid read, I equate composition to developing characters and creating a novel versus researching and writing non-fiction.  It’s an impressive talent which then, in both fields, has conventions and lots to learn to perfect the product.

This morning, Jane Kim, a journalism major at Northwestern University, asked if she could interview me for a project she was working on.   The interview was thought provoking.  She said that someone had told her that Classical Music was going to be dead in 100 years and asked me what I thought.  My immediate response was that I didn’t believe that.  Bach wrote over 250 years ago, and we are still listening to and appreciating his music and will still be 250 years from now.  Granted, I am not and haven’t been an avid listener of pop music since I was in high school, but I think we see more students each year because there is something spiritual about the music, from Bach to Debussy to Shostakovich to Puccini, there is a feeling that you get from classical music that keeps you coming back to listen.  It’s probably even more exciting to creatively make the notes come alive!

Then, I thought quickly about why someone would think that classical music is dying, and remembered that Lali Watt had come in the office today with a VOTE NO button.  I asked her what she voted NO to, and she said that a proposition in Wilmette, if passed, would eliminate music in the public schools, so she was going to vote NO.  My own knowledge of music, key signatures, scales, note values, appreciation for The New World Symphony, all came from general music classes and plastic recorder and clarinet lessons in school music through the 8th grade in New York State public schools. There are over 600 public elementary schools in Chicago and about half of them do not have art or music classes.  When a wealthy suburb like Wilmette considers eliminating music or charges for it as an extra, it does have you take pause. 

What do you think?  Will classical music be dead in 100 years?

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