Is there still a future for classical music?

From this year on the annual Three-Day Music Festival in the Dutch city of The Hague will become the epicenter for innovations in classical music: “Is there a future for classical music?“, “How can we engage a new and young(er) audience?” and “what will a concert (hall) be like in the year 2030?“. Non-fiction sets out to broaden the horizon and discover new territories.

For quite some time now Non-fiction’s Michiel van Iersel has been involved in the so-called Three-Day Music Festival in The Hague. This year’s event takes place on March 5 – 7 and is the 7th edition of this annual celebration of classical music. Up to now the overarching theme of this classical music event was ‘Young Talents meet Great Masters’, with master classes, the Classic Express (an amazing mobile concert hall), recitals and concerts in which well established musicians took to the stage with a new generation of musicians.

However, from this edition onward, the festival will focus on innovations in the world of (classical) music performances. The festival wants to play a pivotal role in stimulating cross-disciplinary projects, state-of-the-art facilities, technological innovations, off-site concerts and smart (online) communication tools. The underlying questions are: “how can we engage a new and young(er) audience in classical music” and “what will a concert (hall) be like in the year 2030“?

We will be looking at the most innovative and outlandish attempts to shake of classical music’s boring image and to revitalize this ancient art form. Obviously, we will start by examining the revolutionary nature of the (classical) music itself. What would be the contemporary equivalent of Igor Stravinsky‘s controversial and violentSacre‘, John Cage‘s legendary 4’33″ or Karlheinz Stockhausen‘s mindblowing (and deafening) ‘Helicopter String Quartet‘?

On our personal shortlist you’ll find Michel van der Aa‘s chamber opera One and sound art by people like Carsten Nicolai and Christian Marclay, but also Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood‘s new compositions for the London Sinfonietta as part of the South Bank Centre’s cutting-edge Ether Festival in 2005. Please let us know what your nominees are.

The impact of new and digital media on the creation and consumption of classical music will be discussed as well, from Edgard Varèse‘s groundbreaking work up to the electric violin and other absurdities from the 70′s and 80′s, via the 3D Tour of Classical Music History that was developed back in 1993 (!), down to recent innovations like the crowdsourced Youtube Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall and Virtual Maestro, a game on Nintendo’s Wii which allows you to conduct a virtual orchestra.

The concert hall of the 21st century is one of the subjects that will be discussed during a new series of talk shows and presentations in which both experts and visitors will be explicitly asked to pass an opinion on future developments. We will scan the globe in search for brave architectural statements that have fundamentally changed the acoustic and esthetic standards for concert halls and music centers alike. Think of the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media & Performing Arts Center (0r simply EMPAC) in upstate New York, Zaha Hadid‘s billowing Bach pavilion in Manchester, the new Oslo Opera House (in Norwegian: Operahuset) and our beloved Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ, Amsterdam’s (self-proclaimed) “Concert hall of the 21st Century”.

Architect and provocateur extraordinaire Rem Koolhaas will be our keynote speaker on Saturday, March 6. The Lucent Danstheater (completed in 1987 and housing the Netherlands Dance Theater) is one of the festival locations, but also happens to be one of Rem Koolhaas’s first completed projects to receive widespread critical acclaim. In the coming years it will be replaced by a new and multifunctional music center in the same location. Obviously we have asked him to elaborate on ‘his’ Casa da Música, being not only his most recent attempt to design the perfect concert venue but also providing a model for other music venues and cultural icons in the 21st century and millennia to come.

We will liven up his contribution with a series of short videos of users and visitors of both the Casa da Musica and the Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ. We want to know how the buildings function (technically, but also socially), what the biggest strengths and weaknesses of the design are, whether or not they have had an impact on the local music scene and/or international reputation and what lessons can be learned from them?

For this reason we will attend the Portugese premiere of Michel van der Aa‘s music theatre work ‘The Book of Disquiet” at Casa da Musica in Porto next week, for a recorded ‘walkthrough’ with our favorite Dutch composer and António Jorge Pacheco, the institute’s artistic director. We will be discussing the building’s design concept and day-to-day functioning from an artistic, social and practical viewpoint.

The final result of these filmed interviews ‘on the move‘ will be shown during the festival, but in the meantime we will keep  you updated on our website and on the festival’s blog and through Twitter.

Casa da Música, Porto (Source: The Guardian)

By Michiel — Posted February 1, 2010 — 5,270 Comments