Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Why the collapse of American Symphony orchestra is inevitable

As an American culture we have failed as a collective to make classical music our own. America somehow managed to take a European piano and let its artists create a new genre of music called jazz. However, the current model for American orchestral management is to hire European music directors, play European music, and record the same European music over and over again to the point where it is unsellable and driving orchestras more in debt and audiences farther away. What is the artistic or business model there?

I can understand making these records if they were flying out of the record shops, but they are virtually unsellable. Albums are only done for the vanity of the music director’s ego to create their own legacy in the classical world at the future expense of the orchestral musicians and patrons.

Can't these patrons and managers at least find American music directors? Are we that inept as a society that in our expansive country, where we explode in creativity in so many genres, cannot find our own home grown music directors? Or are we always going to be content as a second rate Europe?

Who is minding the store? How are these things allowed to happen? The classical world hemorrhages vast amounts of money and would not even exist if it were not for the handful of rich patrons that allow music directors to indulge this behavior. If it is all a write off for a musical charity, this money would be a lot better spent if these patrons would have the sense of self to at least try to create their own indigenous American orchestral sound, as we have managed to do with Jazz. Art must have context and we are a society of rhythm and of jazz. The entire world has changed and responds to a different pulse than the European elite of the 1700s. This current thinking only pushes classical music farther away from the youth of this country and prevents any chance of its growth. We are not Europe and need to concentrate on building a first rate model predicated on the ideas of our own country rather than imitating the Europe of 100 years ago.

Part 2: The future 

The powerless composer and the all mighty orchestra paradigm will soon invert. The composer will have the power of realizations of their works, as the “Artificial Intelligence” computer orchestra will far surpass any real orchestra in the next few years. A composer’s imagination will no longer be stifled predicated on the dexterity of the human digits. They now will be able to realize whatever they can imagine in their minds. If you want to write a tuba part where the tuba must play perfect 32nd notes at any tempo from the lowest note to highest note without any effort or mistakes this will be a none-issue.

For those of you that follow the Binaural+ recordings I have been doing in conjunction with Professor Edgar Choueiri and the Princeton Physics lab, virtual 3D audio is around the corner. In the future the collective experience concert hall may not be the best venue to listen to music as soon our homes can be transformed into any venue we like. Science fiction? No, it is science that can now be done in a lab.

The composer of the future will not resemble his forefather, sub human life form composer who grovels like a scared mouse at the feet of an orchestra to play their music. They will not only compose music, but perform it with a perfect virtual orchestra, pick the venue, and you will get it as a hi-resolution 3D download at home.

So if the orchestras of tomorrow want to coexist with this new platform they need to change their modus operandi and perhaps start thinking about joining the world of the present.