There’s been a number of excellent posts in recent times on the vexed subject of the future of classical music, from the Denver Post series I referenced here, a thoughtful piece on Elissa Milne’s site, and a related story (also well worth reading) on Proper Discord, to name just a few.
One of the things that struck me reading these pieces is that no-one mentions “he who must not be named”, and I’m not referring to Voldemort from the Harry Potter books, but his cultural equivalent, Andre Rieu. He of the flying mullet.
I don’t claim to be Rieu’s greatest fan. In fact, to borrow a phrase from Red Dwarf, given a choice between an evening at a Rieu concert and experimental pile surgery I think it would be a coin-flip situation. However, there’s no denying the man’s popularity. His DVDs dominate best seller lists everywhere, while Rieu documentaries are hard to get away from on Foxtel. People who couldn’t be dragged to a symphony orchestra performance by wild horses will happily stump up hundreds of dollars for a Rieu concert (or more….I see that during his forthcoming tour of Oz you can get a whole day with Andre for a mere $1500).
Now it may well be that amplified and simplified transcriptions of light classics on ice may not be the best way forward for the world of classical music, but is there nothing we can learn from Andre?
There isn’t? Oh, ok.
Perhaps Richard Tognetti (leader of the Australian Chamber Orchestra) put it best:
People are so under-exposed to music that when they think of classical they think of Andre Rieu, which is a bit of a nightmare.
At least Tognetti is prepared to mention his name!