When classical isn't invited to the party
Dear Music Maven:
There I was Monday, all dressed up, tuned to perfection, and ready to party. Problem was, I never received an invitation ! And it wasn't the kind of event you could crash without fairly serious repercussions, though others have tried. Speaking of percussions, re- or otherwise, all my younger, hipper friends were there, rocking their little behinds off. But what about me? Where do I fit in? Gee whiz, they not only left us out of the fun, they couldn't even find room for us on the boring and somber part of the festivities. And heaven knows we do boring and somber very well. So how should I react to this snub — with haughty indignation, or with self-satisfied sour grapes?
I know how you feel. Isn't it a drag always being on the outside looking in? But your suggested reactions wouldn't help matters, not that you haven't tried them repeatedly. You've heard the definition of insanity — doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results? 'Nuff said.
Darling classical, it's time you faced some facts. I mean, you're beautiful, talented, and everything. And you could probably sing and play circles around most of those who made the D.C. scene on Monday. On the other hand, when was the last time had anything approaching a hit? I know, I know — hits aren't what you do; in fact, they're beneath you. Hey, I'm not asking you to top the charts. But, as far as public consciousness is concerned, could you at least crack the top 100 once in a while? Maybe even a tiny success d'éstime , with enough buzz to get noticed by the smart people and opinion makers, but not so popular that you could be accused of the dreaded selling-out (like you really have to worry about being excessively commercial)? Go for it! What do you have to lose, other than critical approval, which with a few exceptions, isn't worth a damn anyway?
Bubbie, what you need is a makeover, like they do on that TV show I watch on Tuesday evenings. Except what needs making over goes way beyond your clothing and hair style (not that they couldn't also use lots of help). Like the victims...er, participants on that show, you should start by shopping around and trying stuff on. Different repertoires? New venues? Fresh attitudes? It should all be up for grabs, and like Stacy and Clinton, I shouldn't allow you to move on until you've tried them all. Oh, I know what you'll say, that fashion in music, like that in clothing, is for the shallow and self-obsessed. You, on the other hand, are way above that. Fine, keep saying it. Where has it gotten you? Don't you realize that the fussy and fusty concert etiquette you insist on maintaining came around late in your day, and that before then you were really pretty wild and wooly? And hasn't it occured to you that the same old classical canon you revere as if it were holy writ used to be the freshest, hippest stuff around? Classical as cool — it happened once and can happen again.
So, my sweet classical music, before you lash out for being ignored, take a good hard look in the mirror. Of course, some of what you see is worth preserving. But there's lots that is well overdue for change. It's going to take some time. It may not take hold in time for 2016. But by 2020, you should be ready to party! And if that's the case, they wouldn't dare leave you off the invite list.
Photo: The late, great Pauline "Dear Abby" Phillips, doyenne of the modern advice columnists.