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The future of live classical music performance...what are your thoughts?

The availability of DVDs and other "home entertainment" devices have effectively sent the old "drive-in" cinemas into oblivion...the internet is pushing secondhand bookshops/antique shops towards extinction...

What about live classical music performance? With the dizzying rate at which technology keeps evolving, what do you think the future holds here? Will people ultimately prefer to stay home with their DVDs, home-cinemas and YouTube for their "virtual" classical music experiences? What effect would decreasing concert attendances have on the world of live classical performance?

And of course, on top of this, there's the worsening oil crisis...this will surely affect the mobility of both performers and concert-goers...

Will live concerts eventually become a thing of the past? Or will there be some kind of technological meltdown, and we'll ultimately be forced to abandon our hi-tech existences and seek our musical pleasures elsewhere?

I'm curious to hear your thoughts here...


23 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    I think there will always be a place for live performances of music. Nothing else comes close. I was skeptical when Fantom Events broadcast (narrowcast) live performances from the Met to movie theaters nationwide last summer.

    I was pleasantly surprised that those concerts, at least out here, were capacity crowds ... and that the one-time events actually went into repeat performances. Okay, it's not live music but it was 100% affirmation that there is a public that wants to see live music, opera, symphony concerts. (I don't think those would fly so well.)

    If its a relief: when I shop for music CDs I want to handle them, I want to hold the package in my hand, read the jacket, listen to cuts on listening stations. I don't do that on the internet ... I go to the store.

    My wife does the same with books ... and she reads a lot of them.

    Instruments: same thing, I go to the store I handle them, decide if what is available is better than what I have and work a deal (always seems to be in their favor) to take my old gear in trade.

    Sheet music, on the other hand, I get by one of three means.

    1. Download from the Internet. Both purchased and free public domain just because stores just don't sell sheet music any more.

    2. Transcribe by ear ... time consuming, but often the only means available to get out of print titles.

    3. Get it from the morgue ... friends with filing cabinets of unused, ready to discard music. Latest acquisition was from Canada.


    Getting on your movie kick ... that I see being a problem for two very sound reasons. Ticket and concession prices and the crack cleaning crews they have at the theater. I don't want to spend $50 for a family of three to see a film and sit in the lap of sticky popcorn encrusted luxury. (Oops, last weekend we saw two films)

    ... but I didn't like it. :-)

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  • 1 decade ago

    Hello Hafwen, I hope you are wrong, but I find the quality has dropped unbelievably over the last 6 or 7 years. Once upon a time,one could go to an outdoor performance on a summer evening and hear pieces by Walton, Butterworth, etc., with other pieces by Smetana or Dvorak (not the Largo or something that has been used to advertise toilet paper on hte T.V!), and fireworks finish. I was at a concert organised by the National Trust a few weeks ago - it was a farce. Over popular pieces just to put bums on seats. Even the guest tenor said to the audience that he had never before seen, " A conductor in red lame tails wearing a pink cowboy hat, bare his backside to the audience during a performance of,"The Hall of the Mountain King". I will be keeping indoors in future. Chester Cathedral has some very good concerts for the early summer. Try there.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Being a classical pianist, I hope to keep the performing tradition alive! Nothing beats a live performance of great music, and every person I've ever dragged along to their first live performance has loved it. It's not a question of its worth...there is no doubt that a live concert is better than youtube, recordings, etc. It is a question of reaching an audience. People are sometimes indimidated by classical music, but don't realize how easy it is to enjoy. One one hand we need to educate the least a little. Just enough for your average Joe to understand how to listen to the piece. On the other hand, we have to entertain them and keep them from being bored with the music. There is a healthy balance. I feel that every program I put together should be appealing to both the layman and the professor. I'm currently giving a concert of all Rachmaninoff preludes (not all 24). Highly demanding and musical, virtuosic, fun, singable, impressive, emotional, and lots of varitey. (Really, I just love playing it, but I think it meets the criteria also.) Anyway, it will be my job to ensure that live performance doesn't die!

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  • Me.
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    With live performances being neccessary to record music in the first place, I don't see that technology will make them completely extinct.

    For sure a heck of a lot of samples and electronically synthesized sound effects are used more now than ever, but that just makes live music performances such as Classical more desirable, also there seems to be a rise in real guitar music being played live, and the latest technology only wants to compliment that and encourage this generation of 'audience' let alone would be musicians to embrace the live performance experience with the likes of 'Guitar Hero' interactive computer games.

    I can see that musicians that master Classical music will demand more money for live performances though, and so that will always set a trend for home entertainment to cater for those that are on a budget...

    Ampitheatres to entertain the ancients are still as popular now and will be in the future I feel, and the exciting technology that is being used to project dead stars as holograms utilise live orchestras, such as Frank Sinatra, so that could be a competitive force for the future as more and more artists demand high prices for the privelege...

    Live music is always going to be 'in' though, trust me.

    As for the oil crisis, there are advances in engineering that don't rely on fossil fuels that are waiting on the patent shelves, when the world oil corporations finally collapse they'll just have to sponsor the greener technologies and stop being greedy.

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  • 1 decade ago

    One cannot beat the exuberance of the outdoor concert. Everyone out there with their picnic baskets, Champagne and strawberries etc. having a good time. The Fireworks displays at the end of the evening - so fantastic!

    On Saturday 5 July I saw Katherine Jenkins at Victoria Park, Haywards Heath. The show was fantastic and the evening ended with the 1812 overture to fireworks. Most recently I went to see Paul Potts at Stanstead Park (House) near Portsmouth - Sat 19th July. On the 20th July I returned to see the 'Here and Now' Concert featuring an amazing line up of original artists performing their hits from the 80s: Kid Creole & The Coconuts, Curiosity Killed The Cat, Limahl, Nick Heyward, Toyah, T’Pau, Midge Ure.

    The audience was of mixed ages: from tots to OAP's. There is not anything that can come close to the exciting feeling of being there. Course you can watch it on TV, listen to it on your iplayer, ipod, the radio etc, etc but it is not the same experience as been at a live concert! I am going to an ultimate experience on the 19th September - Music on Fire at Sandhurst - I cannot wait.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Wherever we go on vacation, my husband seeks two things - good concerts and museums, and live baseball. I recently saw "live" a famous painting that I had known for years from many high-quality prints. I was stunned at what I had been missing - at that is only 2 dimensions! We attend MANY live concerts, and make a great deal of live music ourselves. Now, I hate baseball. I go with him - because I do. We could sit home and see EVERYTHING up close, on our big TV, sitting in AC comfort on a leather couch, drinking a Scotch. Instead, we sit in teeny seats in the broiling sun, with the players the size of Barbie dolls, and always somebody spills beer on us. You just can't get that at home . . . Nothing beats the live experience, even if you do not AGREE with, or enjoy the live experience. People will seek live performance, not only because of the performance ITSELF, but because of our inherently gregarious nature. Sometimes I listen to a Tanglewood performance, or a Met performance, and then drive there a day or so later to hear it live. It's NEVER the same -that is why it is ART.

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  • 1 decade ago

    You know, the same issues were raised about 100 years ago with the advent of recording. Who would see a live performance when they could listen in the comfort of their own home?

    Of course, no such thing happened. Similarly, attendance at sporting events remains strong, even though most games can be watched on television.

    Ours is, after all, a "live" art form. To truly experience great music, one needs to experience it live. Recordings are great, obviously, but with "acoustic" (unamplified) music, you just can't beat the "live" experience. There is something visceral about hearing a trained singer, a brilliant pianist, or a fine symphony orchestra live and in person.

    I think the future is bright!

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  • I don't think being @ home on youtube can beat a true concert experience.

    For me it is the excitement and suspense (and nerves if you are performing) that make live concerts awesome.

    When I go to a concert I immerse myself in all the sounds, I don't think you can truly do that at home.

    But some theater systems come pretty darn close. lol

    I don't think live concerts will ever become a thing of the past, I think there will always be people who appreciate real music, who are eager to perform and eager to attend.

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  • 1 decade ago

    This may be a silly way to put it, but compare going to a concert to going out for a meal.

    Sure, cooking your own meal can nice (as is sticking in a CD by your favourite band/artist), but you can't beat going out and being treated to a meal cooked by a professional there and then, and not having to do then washing up. We can cook like it,but it's not quite the same, is it.

    Same principle applies to live music. Sure it sounds good, all edited, mastered, re-mastered etc, but listening to raw live music gives you atmosphere, and it feels more personal, more alive!

    I think until humans (or computers for that matter), become perfect, I don't think there's much to worry about. Besides, robots can't replicate human emotion like humans, yet!

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  • 1 decade ago

    I'm not as pessimistic as some of your responders. All performers need audiences; money provides nutrition for our bodies, but sustenance for the soul needs affirmation.

    Julliard and Curtis are still with us; and harder than ever to gain admittance to. One avid classical music buff, rather opera-lover in particular, tells me that the Met. performances are usually sold out.

    If one watches or listens to "From the Top", which provides an opportunity for outstanding young musicians to be heard in front of a live audience, one is assured that there are many fine young performers, readily and willing to take up the mantle of the reigning big name instrumentalist and vocalist when they retire.

    The hedonistic fungi of "pop" culture, has not infected everyone in our modern, western culture; there are still a sizable portion of the populace whose minds are not yet utterly controlled by the mass media.

    As long as there are those amongst us who care about the truly beautiful, the uplifting experience of witnessing great works of art, be they visual, sound or the written word, there is still hope for our species; and by extrapolation, live classical music performances.


    P.S.-Great question; thanks for asking it.

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