The movement has also demolished one tiresome credo of classical-music critics: that the way to revitalize the concert tradition is to program contemporary music. It is surely the case that the concert repertoire, derived from a narrow slice of the musical universe, is in desperate need of new music. But the critics are wrong in defining “new music” exclusively as contemporary. The public could not be more unequivocal: it finds little emotional significance in most contemporary classical music, especially that produced in academic enclaves.
In essence, Basinski is improvising using nothing so much as the passage of time as his instrument, and the result is the most amazing piece of process music I've ever heard, an encompassing soundworld as lulling as it is apocalyptic. A piece may begin bold, a striking, slow-motion slur of ecstatic drone, and in the first minute, you will notice no change. But as the tape winds on over the capstans, fragments are lost or dulled, and the music becomes a ghost of itself, tiny gasps of full-bodied chords groaning to life amid pits of near-silence. Some decay more quickly and violently than others, surviving barely 15 minutes before being subsumed by silence and warping, while the longest endures for well over an hour, fading into a far-off, barely perceptible glow.
Between 1982 and 2008, attendance at performing arts such as classical music, jazz, opera, ballet, musical theater, and dramatic plays has seen double-digit rates of decline.
Audiences for jazz and classical music are substantially older than before. In 1982, jazz concerts drew the youngest adult audience (median age 29). In the 2008 survey, the median age of jazz concert-goers was 46 – a 17-year increase. Since 1982, young adult (18-24) attendance rates for jazz and classical music have declined the most, compared with other art forms.
But under pressure from an increasingly militant musicians’ union and with an infusion of funding from the Ford Foundation in 1966, many orchestras started paying their players annual, or close to annual, salaries. ... The low pay of a typical late-nineteenth-century musician made possible the huge orchestral forces that Bruckner and Mahler summoned as a matter of course. Today’s composers usually write for much smaller ensembles, having been priced out of the symphonic form by unionized wages.
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