Although we’re classically focused on this site, it seems we can’t let this week go by without a single comment on WBEZ/Chicago Public Radio’s imminent changes to its jazz and world music programming. Here are the Tribune and Sun-Times pieces, plus a follow-up Chicagoist interview with the station’s VP for Strategic Communications. The changes will undoubtedly affect our Chicago music community…the question that’s way up in the air is – how?
We are very excited that, beginning next spring, the WFMT Radio Network will syndicate a 13-week series of The Chicago Chamber Musicians performances! We expect that the series will be picked up by 140 stations across the country. CCM’s series will be preceded by music from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and followed by the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival to constitute a wonderful year of chamber music for listeners around the U.S.Also, tune in to WFMT this Saturday morning from 9 am to noon for CCM’s 20th anniversary subscription drive for the 2006-2007 season. CCM’s founding artists, Larry Combs, Joseph Genualdi, Deborah Sobol and Gail Williams, will share stories and talk with host Lisa Flynn, and we’ll air some terrific music and offer special premiums and giveaways. Some highlights of next season include an all-Schubert concert, a set of concerts with the fabulous clarinetist Eddie Daniels, the charming Brahms Liebeslieder Waltzes, the world premiere of a work by John Harbison for the entire CCM ensemble, and an all-Hungarian program.Speaking of Schubert, John Gibbons is offering a class on “Schubert and the Rise of Romanticism” through the U of C’s Graham School. He seems to be extremely popular among his students and will also offer a course on Brahms this summer.
A week or so ago there was a column in RedEye, a periodical geared toward a younger demographic, about Drew Barrymore’s recent sexcapade at the Metropolitan Opera with her Italian rock star boyfriend Fabrizio Moretti. It seems that Drew and her beau got bored during a performance of La Boheme (How that is possible is beyond me!) and did what aspiring young celebrities do – they went off to the bathroom for some extra musical fun, then got into trouble. The article ended with the statement, “There’s an important lesson to be learned here: Don’t go to the opera.”
After reading something like this, most of us classical music lovers would wince, blush or just get mad for a few minutes then move on with our busy lives. Well, our Grant Park Music Festival Administrative Assistant, a 20-something professional AND classical musician, was incensed. She fired back a letter to the writer bemoaning the negative implications this casual dismissal of classical music has on society in general and young people, most of whom never encounter “art” music. She said so eloquently, “I can’t think of a more beautiful or timeless way to tell a story than opera – all that you need to bring to the table is an attention span of any significance (which, clearly Moretti and Barrymore lacked when they decided to attend) and an open mind.”
Way to go, Reba. But wait, something strange is going on here. I didn’t hear a peep from anyone else. And recently when the Grant Park Music Festival took it on the chin in the media because it wasn’t able to relocate an important dress rehearsal at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion this coming summer to make room for a rock concert by the band Radiohead, not a soul came to our defense.
Please let me clarify – Radiohead is a great band. This isn’t about them. It’s about the value, role and importance of classical music in our lives. Aside from a logical discussion of the merit of free concerts for the people of Chicago, we all should stand up to defend the intrinsic values of classical music to a public that by and large either doesn’t know it exists or has been trained to treat it with contempt.
I am vowing RIGHT now to stop apologizing for classical music, especially when people make assumptions that it has no value, that it appeals only to the wealthy and that it isn’t “popular.” Yes, we have a long way to go to get our message out. Yes, we need to find a new way to do business and examine our own attitudes, and yes, we have to affect positive change at all levels, but no, we don’t have to sit by when people insult an art form so vital and beautiful. And as soon as more of us start speaking up, maybe our message will be heard.
A new article on the relationship between classical music and film was posted today by Paulette McDaniels. Works used in four Academy Award-nominated films are featured -- can you name the films? Read the article here.