Classical music might or might not be hip.
We certainly have our generous share of hip performers like pianist Conrad Tao, Time for Three, Christopher O’Riley. The Knights, Yuja Wang, Gustavo Dudamel, Lara Downes, Philippe Quint, the Canadian Brass, Matt Haimovitz and the Kronos Quartet.
And of course, these guys wrote the book on hip.
It’s when we try to be hip, or try to make classical music hip, that we fail miserably. Over-trying, or manufacturing hip, never works in music, life, relationships or on the dance floor.
Classical hipsters don’t try to be hip. They just are.
Attempted hipsterism is often geared towards reaching the younger audience member.
There have been some notable successes, but not in the numbers we hoped to achieve.
Audiences young and “old” recognize a strong, committed performance of the music we create on stage.
Let’s always start there.
We are at our best when we are genuine and performing at the highest level – not by trying to be something we are not. I hesitate to call on our old friend, “Be yourself.”
Instead of trying to be hipsters, let’s be innovators.
We spend a lot of time talking about proper concert attire (ours and theirs) and about clapping in between movements. That’s just one minuscule part of the equation.
One way people discover classical music is by accident. We need to plan those accidents.
That’s what these hipsters understand.
Philippe Quint, the Canadian Brass, Matt Haimovitz and Zuill Bailey playing in bars, bistros and cafes artfully show off the power and joy of classical music to new audiences who weren’t expecting to go classical.
We can incorporate more videos of what we do – not necessarily concert video, but videos where we’re doing something different with our core activities – like Yuja Wang playing “Tea for Two” or cracking herself up chilling in the green room with her musical compatriots.
Similarly, Time for Three’s videos on city streets and squares also resonate for people of all ages. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HlzEHobggRs
Showing blockbuster movies in a live concert setting accompanied by a live orchestra playing the classical-like score often creates some of the adulation seen at Rock concerts.
But, that same type of adulation happens daily during a night at the opera after a well-placed high C. Do you know that scene following Musetta’s Waltz in the Second Act of Puccini’s La Boheme? It is physically and emotionally impossible for almost anyone to keep from screaming, cheering and clapping after that huge orchestral and choral climax.
Underneath that mountainous applause, Marcello says something to Musetta that we rarely hear in the opera house. He adoringly calls her “Sirena” (Siren).
For our current and future audiences, we are the genuine sirens for the music we love: bells and whistles not required.
But smoke can be cool. Wait for it. http://www.virgilfoxlegacy.com/welcome.html