Saturday, 24 December 2011

Invisible music

Edmonton has a vibrant classical music community that operates almost invisibly thanks to the media's belief that only old folks and elitists are interested in reports on what's happening out there. My guess is maybe a half dozen concerts and operas get a review in a year. The local double A baseball club gets more coverage for games that draw a few hundred fans some days.
In the past several months, some of the world's most accomplished musicians, a few of them from right here, have filled local churches and concert halls. About 1,500 folks came out to hear Juliette Kang play the Brahms violin concerto at the Winspear Centre in late November. Twice as many heard a couple of excellent performances of the Messiah before Christmas. James Ehnes drew around 600 to a downtown church in October, and native son Jens Lindemann sizzled in front of two full houses at the Winspear this fall.
I like blues and and I love jazz, but unless B.B. King or Wynton Marsalis turn up at one of the larger venues in town, classical music attracts larger audiences to individual events than most jazz, blues or folk artists, and hardly anybody hears about it.
The premier newspaper in the city gives space to a year in review for blues, folk and jazz, and ignores the contribution that classical music makes to the cultural identity of Edmonton. The weird fact is that more people who read newspapers enjoy classical music than those who follow these other popular forms, including pop and rock, I'm guessing. The old folks and elitists are actual subscribers, not virtual ones.
At the risk of sounding like a whiny kid, IT'S NOT FAIR.

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