Will China save classical music?

For an enthusiast like me, the decline of classical music in America is nothing less than tragic. Cities can’t afford to pay for symphony orchestras, classical music radio stations are shutting down, and ticket sales for classical concerts are painfully low except when you have a superstar like Pavarotti or Joshua Bell.

Is it possible that classical record sales and performances will be boosted by (of all the unlikely places) China? It just might happen, and I sure hope the author’s onto something.

In many ways, classical music can be compared to baseball. The audiences for both are static and perhaps even decreasing in the United States, yet in other places, especially Asia, interest in these pursuits is spreading like Starbucks franchises.

In the June issue of BBC Music Magazine, Richard Morrison calls China’s eagerness for classical music the biggest opportunity to widen the appreciation of classical music in our lifetimes.

And it comes with all kinds of beneficial side effects. He sees Chinese tours as a panacea for the economic ills of major Western orchestras. And the potential cross-pollination of classical with traditional Chinese music offers all kinds of exciting creative possibilities.

I was impressed with the number of concerts in Beijing, as well as CCTV-9’s not infrequent classical concerts. (They’re sure better than Hong Kong in this regard.) Something has to keep the classical music industry afloat, and if China is the solution I’ll be delighted. Hope can sometimes be found in the most unlikely places.

The Discussion: 6 Comments

Asia by Blog

All the very best from right around Asia… Hong Kong, Taiwan and China Andrea from T-Salon has posted on the story on the Free Culture Chinese translation project. It’s an amazing story of collaborative effort by Chinese bloggers and could be the firs…

August 30, 2004 @ 12:16 am | Comment

Some things need to die. Seriously.

September 1, 2004 @ 11:11 am | Comment

What do you mean by that? I’d love to know.

September 1, 2004 @ 11:19 am | Comment

Classical music, I mean.

It is dead already. Or should be. There hasn’t been any great composers since, well, forever. There isn’t going to be any to come. There is nothing new, nothing vibrant.

Down with the classicals, I say. This is the age of mp3s.

September 2, 2004 @ 4:13 am | Comment

I live in Beijing. I find the trouble with classical concerts here is that they don’t publicize the events enough. For those of us who cannot read Chinese newspapers, we depend on the listing in China Daily, but that is a only hit and miss at best. I would have gone to many more concerts if I had known where, when and what is being played.

September 20, 2004 @ 6:09 am | Comment

Some of the English free mags like Time Out Beijing have listings in English of all the classical events previewing the main act of the month. I find this useful as it has addresses numbers and information for the whole month.

December 17, 2005 @ 1:58 am | Comment

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