Tuning the Concert

Gold Arts Award Portfolio

Changing the classical image: Cross-genres June 23, 2010

Filed under: 1C: Reviews,1D: issues — concerttuning @ 5:31 pm
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I was taken along to Exhibition Music Day on Sunday 20 June. Though the festival is very popular on the continent, I had not heard of it before.

What struck me the variety of music on offer from acoustic, classical to jazz as well as every other sub-genre under the sun. Going through the process of choosing what to see really brought home that music taste is such a subjective choice. As there is so much on offer out there, it is interesting to consider what motivates us to chose a certain type of music over the other. I would argue an important factor is personal image. The music that you listen to reflects what type of person you are.

What type of people in the year 2010 stereotypically listen to classical music? Music geeks, band camp nerds, people with greying hair? This is problematic for the self-conscious individual, as attending a classical concert stands them in the stead of being labelled uncool.

Perhaps one solution is to incorporate classical people with another genre, to help broaden the audience. I chose to go to a concert with the duo Ballake Sissoko and Vincent Segal on cello and kora at the French Institute presented alongside pop and acoustic bands.

Remarkably, they combined two different cultures to create one cohesive musical dialogue. This was emphasised by their two different forms of attire: a Malian yellow tunic in comparison to European black concert dress. While a western instrument, the cellist mainly borrowed the musical language of the kora instead of the European tradition. However, the cello still retained its ‘classical’ status (whatever you take classical to mean).

This cross-genre places the classical musician in a new position that certainly challenges their stereotypical uncool image. It shows how classical music does not have to be limited to the European tradition as it can also be experimental and innovative. Classical does not exclusively mean C18th classical music and is a developing as much today as it was 300 years ago.

Mixing classical music with other genres creates novelty, a new image and potentially a new audience. Is it the way forward?

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3 Responses to “Changing the classical image: Cross-genres”

  1. […] Exhibition Road Music Day blog article […]

  2. Michael Says:

    I think you comment about ‘uncool’ very perceptive

  3. […] free. As well as buying Ballake Sissoko and Vincent Segal’s CD after hearing them in concert (which I reviewed here), I also very unusually for myself, bought an album by a singer who I heard do an acoustic set at […]


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