Saturday, September 11, 2010

Please Support Classical Music in Your Community: Take Your Kids to a Concert and Make It a Night

I love music and of all its forms classical music now inspires me the most.

Things did not start off that way.  Like most kids of my generation I was raised on rock, The Who and The Stones, Led Zeppelin and the like.  Classical music was taught to us in school, and quite frankly the wrong way.  It was "classical" music, you needed to appreciate it, much like you needed to read The Federalist Papers or The Merchant of Venice, learn the periodic table and that 3.1416 is pi.

Only much later did I appreciate the tailored beauty of a symphony or the raw power of a church organ.  Today, the elemental genius of Shostakovich or Rachmanivov or five hundred plus others gives me the most amazing pause that rock or jazz or whatever just cannot..  Music is a lot like ice cream, lots of flavors means everyone gets satisfied by their favorite flavor and variety means lots of free sampling for us all.  But facts, for me, are facts.  No jam by Eric Clapton or The Grateful Dead ever had the power to overwhelm like Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor.

Today, on this very sad anniversary for a native New Yorker like me, I listened to Dvorak's Symphony No. 7 in D minor, Op. 70.  Did this make me feel better?  No, but it allowed me to be pleasantly distracted,  my mind focused on beauty and majesty for a short while instead of chaos and horror.  What more can be asked of a piece of music?

Conservatives on the right like me castigate Federal spending for the arts, like the NEA of course.  So it's important for all music lovers to step up and support your local musicians.  Your local orchestra or symphony needs your help.  Buying tickets and seeing shows is what you can do to put your money where your mouth is.

But it's easy to support your local arts.  SEE SHOWS!  IT'S FUN!

What I normally tell my friends when they quibble there is nothing to do on weekends I say this:

"Buy some concert tickets and take your wife and kids to a concert.  Make a night of it.  Dinner, some music, and then coffee and ice cream.  Your family will love you for the experience.  The kids may say they are bored but they'll understand years later."

My public school had it half right.  Teaching classical music as essential knowing is not a bad idea.  Would it be right to go through high school and never hear Brahms or Beethoven?  You and your kids should know who Tchaikovsky was.  But classical music is alive, it is a community of artists who live all around you, and they certainly need your financial support, especially in these tough times.

But it's fun to support them.  You get to hear some of the greatest pieces of music ever written, many hundreds of years old, performed by some of the geniuses of our day.  And patronize today's modern composers and musicians who are putting their own unique take on history.