Classical music in America is dead? Not so fast!
Mark Vanhoenacker is a writer living in New York who recently declared – “Classical music in America is dead.”
After reading Mr. Vanhoenacker’s article, I began to wonder what else he had written – something which might qualify him as an expert on Classical music. Here are some of the columns my research uncovered.
For your convenience, I have included links for each article, so you may do your own research if you are interested.
The response to his column was quite rapid. As you can imagine, there are any number of people willing to weigh in on the subject. Most of them tend to disagree with Mr. Vanhoenacker. I have chosen two responses written by people who know much more than I about the current state of the music world in general and Classical music in particular. The first is a blog called diacritical, which is written by Douglas McLennan. He is a graduate of Juilliard and founded ArtsJournal.com, which is “a digest of some of the best arts and cultural journalism in the English-speaking world.” McLennan writes,
“Mark Vanhoenacker’s Slate piece about the death of classical music, on the other hand, undercuts its premise by cherry-picking stats that may or may not have anything to do with his point, and knitting it together with dubious anecdotal observations.”
McLennan goes on to analyze Vanhoenacker’s premise, dismantling it along the way. McLennan then refers readers to a response written by Frank Oteri. For my money, Frank Oteri is THE source for what’s going on in today’s music world, Classical and other wise. He is meticulous in his assessment of Vanhoenacker’s argument and his dissection of it.
Lest you think those are only two voices out of many, McLennan cites an article by Andy Doe, who writes the blog Proper Discord, in which an even more thorough dissection takes place. In fact, when I googled ‘Mark Vanhoenacker classical,’ I had many more responses from which to choose. So far, I have found no one standing up to defend his position.
This is not to say that the Classical music business is rosy. Granted, changes are needed to make certain it continues to grow…changes that are already taking place. The Metropolitan Opera’s resurgence as a result of the HD theater broadcasts is a prime example. However, before you lower the coffin, you’d better listen…that sound you hear is Classical music’s beating heart.
Watch Bob Simon’s report, Reinventing Opera at the Met above
Watch Renee Fleming in Rusalka – Song to the Moon