A New Pitch for Classical Music? (Limelight, July 2018)

I first got into cricket as a very effective method of procrastination. It was the summer of 2006, and I was trying my best to get through the first year of university with minimal effort and work, when I came upon this fascinating anthropological anomaly called Test Cricket. Magic! It provided literally days of excuses not to practise or revise species counterpoint whilst watching the drama unfold.

If aliens landed tomorrow and demanded to see the most exemplary demonstration of human physical prowess, it is unlikely we’d offer archive footage of Warnie smoking a ciggie before taking the field. Nonetheless, it is one of the most unique professional sports that currently exists. With its lengthy duration and the intense physical and psychological examination that all players must endure, it succeeds in standing alone as a real testament to human achievement.

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Music: More than the Notes

Growing up as a child in Australia, you can be forgiven for the feeling that the rest of the world exists on another planet. Mostly because, well, by virtue of distance, it might as well be.

News channels often focused on stories that directly affected Australia and its inhabitants, with only extremely big pieces of news journeying the many miles that separate the country from the rest of the planet. To an Australian kid, Russia is known as a really cold place where some fairly bad things happened; Germany is known as a fairly cold place where some really bad things happened; and England is basically the old little island with the little old Matriarch, and a rather pathetic cricket team.

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Critiquing the Critique:

Phan is a lyric tenor and there are moments, in the Britten especially especially, when a bit more weight of tone would have been welcome, but otherwise his singing is impeccably correct” [1].

I’m sorry, what? There we have it kids: the exact sentence which encapsulates the current zeitgeist of classical music commentary, and the level of listening we have finally descended to.

‘Impeccably correct.’

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Classical Music Etiquette for Beginners

The crowd hums with expectation. A sea of grey covers the terrain of the stalls, whilst a bell tolls, signaling the imminent downbeat. The lights dim - the ever so mildly restless crowd hushes. It’s time.

But first, an announcement - ‘please ensure your mobile phones are turned off.

The Maestro emerges to loud, rapturous applause. Or perhaps the orchestra emerges first, followed by the designated tuner, then followed by the Maestro. Either way, a lot of applause happens to signify appreciation for something that hasn’t yet occurred.

Silence again, and boom goes the orchestra.

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Tall Poppies Are Pretentious Twats

We’ve all been there - musicians, that is. Generally, sitting down somewhere: be it at a world famous concert hall listening to a professional performer smashing away at a piece we’ve played; a masterclass we should have signed up for; early for your lesson and listening to the previous victim; or even just listening to some friends run through repertoire.

‘I could do that better.’

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Musicians Are Worthless

The steady descent started with the first recording.

Think about it. What is music for us now? Music is the most readily available commodity in our lives. It plays on the subway trains from a caustic mixture of headphones, buskers, and inconsiderate narcissists and their varied speaker systems. It is in every shop, restaurant, grocery store, cafe, even on the street when cars drive past with their windows down. It creates a space for every individual with a set of headphones that is completely hermetic and cut off from those around them. It is on our laptops, computers, phones, soundsystems. It is purchased, it is streamed, it is unconsciously absorbed.

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The Problem With Classical Music - Part 1

Part One of a six part dossier. In recent times, musicians and music lovers alike have been writing the obituary for classical music. Classical record companies are faltering, concerts are lesser and lesser frequented, and general interest is low. The flashpoint for classical musicians is now, and it's either evolve with the times, or face complete irrelevancy.

So here's how we're going to do it.

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