Celebrating Amadeus outside of the ivory tower

by Jason Gross

30 January 2006


Even anyone who’s fairly ignorant of old-style European classical music (i.e. yours truly) has heard that a big celebration of Mozart is going on all over the (Western) world.  I’ve seen a few articles challenge his pre-eminance (i.e. Norman Lebrecht “Finding his inner Mozart”), but I also wonder why there doesn’t seem to be much (any?) effort to remove this music from its ivory tower setting and reach out to other styles and audiences.
Granted that many pop-classical cross-overs aren’t anything particularly impressive that you’d want to listen to again and again but there are possibilities out there:

- Labels like Fax or Mille Plateaux could put together compilations, covering his symphonies.

- Eyvind Kang and/or Mat Maneri could be covering the violin concerto’s.

- Don Byron often does an excellent job of blurring genres of serious music.  I’d think that a Mozart project might be up his alley.

- Hip-hopera anyone?  Yeah, it sound ridiculous but Malcolm McLaren (of all people) actually didn’t do that badly with it on his “Duck Rock” album.  Can it be possible that there’s no hip hop producer out there who has a thing for classical music?  Prince Paul digs Ludwig Van at least.

And so on… If there’s one thing you can add to the ever-growing list of problems and challenges that classical music faces today, it’s this particular disconnect with a more modern audience that isn’t inclined to that type of music.  A little outreach (done the right way) could go a long way.

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