face the music

The presentation of classical music to contemporary audiences has been thrown into the spotlight by the comments of a leading music executive.

Speaking to the Association of British Orchestras in Leeds, Max Hole who runs Universal Music’s classical business had a very clear vision of what the genre needs to do to connect with people who are currently put off by its image.

Musicians need ‘to change the way they dress, show more excitement when the play and encourage the audience to applaud whenever they want’ (The Independent, 24th January 2013, page 7).

He also stressed the importance of communicating with audiences, for example, using screens to show the conductor’s work and a more imaginative use of lighting.

As someone who invariably has the best seat in the house, singing with a choir behind an orchestra in full cry, I can vouch for the value of seeing what a conductor gets up to.

CBSO Music Director Andris Nelsons is one of the new breed of conductors, who often talks to the audience during a concert before a work is played.

One of my colleagues in the CBSO Chorus, Aluned Mansell, has recently written a blogpost, which captures the essence of what conductors are about – ‘So what’s the point of the bloke waving his arms.’

And if you want a good reason to buy seats in the choir stalls next time you attend a classical concert (minus choir), then this clip of Andris Nelsons conducting the 50th anniversary ‘War Requiem’ performance illustrates the point perfectly.

‘So What’s The Point Of The Bloke Waving His Arms?’

Britten’s ‘War Requiem’ clip – Andris Nelsons conducting


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