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Classical 101

Is Alt/Indie-Classical Too Hip for Classical Music's Own Good?

Some time ago, I asked you on this blog whether Columbus should go alt-classical, with all that entails, including blending two distinctly different musical genres and also quite possibly opening a classical music nightclub to accommodate the new mix. Judging from your responses, setting classical music up on a blind date with alt or indie music once in a while isn't such a bad idea. After all, if younger crowds - the presumptive elixir for the perennially "graying" classical music audience - like alt and/or indie rock and like classical music but prefer to hear it in venues less formal than the concert hall, then why not perform an alt/indie-classical hybrid in venues where younger audiences like to go? It would be a shrewd and a democratic thing to do with an art form long criticized for its exclusivity. But is the alt-indie scene really where classical music needs to go to shake its snooty image once and for all? New Statesman arts writer En Liang Khong claims the "indie-classical" label, in particular, still potentially freights classical music with elitism, albeit one rooted not in high-art posturing, but rather in hipsterism, which Khong says "has created an aesthetic predicated on the perfection and superiority of taste:"

I am concerned that the prevalence of the “indie-classicalâ€? branding comes as part of a more problematic attempt to subject classical music to the shallow posturing and exclusionary logics of indie scenes, where [the Website] Pitchfork has built a culturally anxious readership. While, in part, this is just an inevitable side-effect of broadening audiences, classical music already offers a tempting heritage, social ritual and professionalised elite performance.

Granted, hipster taste may well be fairly consistently different from the taste of the stereotypical classical music audience, though I hasten to point out that the stereotype came not from within the supposedly judgmental and exclusionary classical music audience, but rather from judges who have branded themselves themselves as "outsiders." But isn't it a fairly elitist notion (if not a new one) that one, much less many, can find or even invent perfect - indeed superior - taste? So I ask you: What do you think classical music gains or loses from the labels "alt-classical" and "indie-classical"? Read more;

  • The Pernicious Rise of 'Indie-Classical' (TNS)
  • Making Overtures: The Emergence of Indie-Classical (Pitchfork)
  • Should Columbus Go Alt-Classical? (Classical 101)