Russell Brunelle (russellb) wrote,
Russell Brunelle
russellb

Classical music in the 21st century

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra is receiving deserved acclaim for its professional-level (e.g. multi-camera) free HD video broadcasts of its live performances. From time to time, Fathom Events has also done live broadcasts of L.A. Philharmonic performances, the advantage there being that you get the benefit of the movie theater sound system.

The problem with both of these arrangements is (at least in my opinion but one which I suspect is widely shared) that orchestral music just isn't enhanced by actually watching the orchestra: if anything, that's a distraction. Plus, you're then giving up what is potentially unique about music, i.e. the ability to enjoy it as an art form while doing other things.

Instead what I'm most impressed by right now is Q2, the New York City internet-only radio station (associated with the venerable classical FM station WQXR) which only plays works by living composers.

This is material which symphony directors find they have to be sparing with in their programming, and which could probably never support a dedicated station on the FM dial in any major city, but thanks to the internet, where there's enough room for everyone and everything, you can now listen to a radio station broadcasting only this kind of music 24 hours a day.

I've found that the Q2 on-air hosts are passionate and knowledgeable about the music they're playing, which really makes a difference, and their support of live music via live broadcasts of local performances is admirable.

So, Q2 is my current pick for the classical music world's best use of modern technology: tune in at http://www.wqxr.org/#!/series/q2/ if you'd like to give it a try.

[Note: I should probably make clear that I'm not talking about opera in any of the above - for that, where obviously what you see on stage is an integral part of the art form, the Fathom Events live broadcasts of the Metropolitan Opera are far and away the best recent development.]
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