Let's raise our glass to classical music!
You know, there's so much bad news about classical music around that it might lead us to despair for the future of our beloved art form. Aging audiences, shrinking attendance, declining donations, imploding record labels — plenty of fodder for Norman Lebrecht maybe, but not so good for the rest of us. How do we keep our spirits up? Well, let me share some of the thoughts I mull over of an evening, over a glass of Saint-Émilion or Ribera del Duero.
Here we have an iconic cultural product that has been enjoyed in Europe and environs for millennia by peasants, kings and everyone in-between. Each region has its own defining style, capturing the spirit of its people, though constantly transformed through contact with other styles. The product has also been produced and enjoyed for centuries in the New World, and at a very high level. Yet it was long unable to shake its image among Americans as something foreign, suitable perhaps for connoisseurs and the elite, but not for everyday folk. Those unpronounceable names, that complicated terminology, the fancy labels, and oh, the arcane rituals of partaking — 'twas better simply to avoid it altogether, lest you be exposed as a oeno-neophyte. It was enough to make a devoted fan cry into his glass.
Instead, pour yourself another glass, maybe this time a good Central Coast Syrah or Finger Lakes Riesling. For since 1970, wine's per-capita consumption in the United States has more that doubled. And it continues to rise. Never mind why for now, and what it all means. Nor can I be bothered at present to refute those (and they exist) who question whether this is unequivocally a good thing. If it can happen to wine, maybe there's hope for classical music after all. Cincin!