The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Will 2013 give us more proof that the future of Western European classical music can be found in South America, Asia and elsewhere in the Developing World? American conductor Marin Alsop seems to think so. | January 3, 2013

By Jacob Stockinger

One of the most interesting stories I heard about classical music in 2012 points yet again to a curious paradox.

Even while many First World audiences, as well as school programs, in Western Europe and North America seem to be turning their backs on classical music, that same classical music is thriving and blossoming in South America and Asia, and even in Africa (below is a double bass player in the Kinshasa Symphony).

Kinshasa Symphony bassist

Curiously, the greatest success often seems to come from the most unlikely source: The poor and undereducated young people and students, plus their families and friends, for whom the music takes on even more personal and cultural or social meaning.

landfill harmonic cello

One example is Gustavo Dudamel (below), the fiery and charismatic superstar conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Gustavo Dudamel  and “el sistema” in Venezuela, which trained him and gets countless young people into making classical music.

dudamel-wild49754818

You may remember that on Christmas Day I touched on this same theme with a very moving video of poor young in Paraguay who are featured in the upcoming documentary “Landfill Harmonic” about poor students who recycle trash into instruments of musical beauty.

Here is a link to that posting:

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2012/12/25/

And here is a link to the story, which aired on NPR in which Leonard Bernstein protégée and conductor Marin Alsop, who leads both the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and the Sao Paulo Orchestra in Brazil, discusses her exhilarating experience south of the border.

Those experiences include an outdoors concert for 20,000 (below) and taking the first South American orchestra ever invited  to the famed British Proms concerts, where the crowds went wild. (At bottom is a YouTube video of Alsop and the Sao Paulo Orchestra playing encores at the 2012 Proms in Britain.)

alsop_brazil

Such beauty, meaning and enthusiasm are indeed contagious. Let us hope 2013 brings more of that same energy and devotion to beautiful music and a lifelong appreciation of it right here!

I found the story hopeful and inspiring, and I hope you do too:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/deceptivecadence/2012/12/22/167459993/marin-alsop-a-utopian-musical-dream-from-south-america


2 Comments »

  1. This phenomenon would make an interesting sociological study — the factors in the U.S. behind the lack of interest and the factors in the developing countries behind the passion.

    Comment by Susan Fiore — January 3, 2013 @ 8:31 am

    • Hi Susan,
      Indeed it would.
      Seems like something akin to global role reversal.
      We seem to be getting more like a Third World country in some ways (infrastructure, wealth gap) while Third World countries are becoming more like developed First World countries in other ways (technology, public education and culture).
      As always, thanks for your reading and replying with an interesting observation.
      Happy New Year!
      Cheers,
      Jake

      Comment by welltemperedear — January 3, 2013 @ 10:01 am


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