The times they are a-changing...

...maybe more so now than ever before in human history. Life changes, society changes, ideas and opinions change. Human impact changes our home: our planet. Man-made economics change everybody's everyday life.

As many things grow bigger and spin out of control, there is a tendency to go back to basics, to human size, to simplicity. Artists may be among those who forefeel these changes a bit earlier or a bit stronger, or they find ways to reflect them in their work and in the interactions with their audiences.

Musicians all over the world are beginning to change the way they communicate. They realize that there are many ways to play and to move their listeners, and that they can create better and deeper connections outside the established, ritualized concert world. In many ways they find a more profound meaning to music and its function in society by scaling things down. Not every musician has to play at Carnegie Hall, and indeed a much greater bond with the audience can be created by taking away the barriers that are all too often part and parcel of the institutionalized world of classical music.

So we don't dress in the traditional black-and-white "monkey suit" concert uniform. We find it creates a distance between player and listener. We talk to our audiences, not only through the music but in real, understandable language. We think that as musicians we have no right to bore the listener to death by playing works that are of interest only to specialists or musicologists. We play in a HIP way (Historically Informed Practice) but we find authenticity of spirit a lot more important than the illusion of a so-called "authenticity"of material means or of opinions (such as the exact "right" type of strings to be used, the length of bows, or the question whether the violin player's chin is in the "correct" position or not). We play in human-sized venues, and in places where classical music is hardly ever heard: a hairdresser's salon, a clothes boutique, a home for the socially underprivileged, charity events, an art gallery, or simply in the street.

All of this can be done without sacrificing musical quality, and it may come as a surprise to some, that people who never listen to classical music can be receptive to it, can thoroughly enjoy it, and can be deeply moved by it.

If classical music wants to survive or if it wants to contribute to a better world, it has to leave its ivory tower and must step down from its podium. It has to talk to audiences, it has to make an effort to go towards the listener. 

Astonishingly, this is an aspect of music making that is hardly ever addressed in music education: music students are not told that the ultimate purpose of what they're doing is (or should be) to communicate with an audience. In all their years at Conservatory music students never even hear the words "audience" or "listener". We live in a strange world indeed...

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