As we launch the new FanFaire, we revisit the question that has confronted opera and classical music lovers in recent decades: Is classical music dying, and opera along with it? But in keeping with FanFaire‘s celebratory spirit, we would ask instead: Is classical music alive and well?
More than a decade has passed since FanFaire first saw the light of day, and in many quarters of the media, the deathwatch continues. Yet obviously, FanFaire continues to celebrate MUSIC, having withstood the unstoppable onslaught of alternative forms of mass entertainment, steadfast in the belief that the still widely persistent fear of the art forms’ imminent demise remains greatly exaggerated. And confident that, notwithstanding the hardships that beleaguer some of America’s leading music institutions, classical music and opera will thrive through the rest of the millennium.
Indeed we can build a case, one point at a time, that classical music and opera will NOT follow our graying grandparents to the grave. Focusing for now on instrumental music, we can confidently state that:
There is definitely NO dearth of young, star-track talent across the US and around the world.
We invite you to flip through the pages of FanFaire‘s youngest featured artist, the (then 16) violinist CAROLINE GOULDING. You’re likely to be convinced that today at 18, she is a most superb symbol for the future of classical music. She rose from the ranks of the country’s brightest, young musicians who inhabit “From the Top,” that delightful long-running radio program of kids and by kids, ages 8 to 18, who love classical music and play it with a passion. The show is hosted by Caroline’s mentor and friend, acclaimed classical pianist CHRISTOPHER O’RILEY
In mid-career, O’Riley today continues to bask in the limelight of the concert stage, even as he shepherds middle-and high-schoolers through the landscape of classical music. Like his protege Caroline, he was in his youth a promising Avery Fisher Career Grant awardee. Revisit O’Riley’s updated FanFaire pages, which also tell the story of “From the Top.” You’ll find that he’s a great role model and understand why he’s probably the pianist most known and beloved by America’s youngest classical stars-in-the-making.
Then there’s the brilliant ALISA WEILERSTEIN, who can now wear the label “Genius cellist” on her sleeve, or tack it onto her cello case. She was recently declared a MacArthur Foundation Fellow (appropriately nicknamed “Genius Award”), a coveted title that carries with it a $500,000 no-strings-attached cash prize, given not so much for past achievement but for the awardee’s demonstrated creative capacity to contribute meaningfully to society in her/his field of endeavor. Alisa makes her first appearance on FanFaire, and if you know very little of her or not at all, then you’re invited to learn more about this young American cellist who is on a sure fast-track to the stars.
And how can one ignore the impact on music education in the western world of the youth orchestras of Venezuela’s El sistema and its GenZ/GenY icon, GUSTAVO DUDAMEL who has quantum-leaped high into orchestral firmament? Today’s hottest conductor, two years into his artistic leadership of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, has raised the organization’s remarkable creative energies to even higher levels, inspired the children of LA’s inner cities, and energized youth orchestras across the US.
And what if China let its “50-million flowers bloom?” You can’t NOT have heard of the rock-star-famous, flamboyant but masterful young pianist LANG LANG. You may also have heard of the more restrained YUNDI LI. The youngest and first Chinese winner of Poland’s prestigious Chopin International Piano Competition, his countrymen instantly dubbed him the “prince of piano.” Or of the eye-popping YUJA WANG, now in great demand as a soloist and recording artist.
But in case you’re not aware of the amazing statistics… yes, populous China boasts some 50 million classical music students, and some of them proudly carry a picture of Mozart in their wallets! Thinking of what that number could mean for the future of classical music can boggle the mind. Surely it can only be good for the art form. Do we hear revolution? The Chinese phenomenon is fertile ground for a lively discussion anytime, but FanFaire will reserve it for another day.
In the meantime, we invite you to experience FanFaire‘s new look-and-feel. Visit the pages of artists now in the prime of their careers: pianist JEAN-YVES THIBAUDET, mezzo-soprano VIVICA GENAUX, composer JAKE HEGGIE, and conducting phenomenon GUSTAVO DUDAMEL. Wonderful role-models all, they continue to inspire audiences worldwide, from whose ranks surely will rise tomorrow’s bright stars of classical music and opera.
Deathwatch? What deathwatch? On that note, we temporarily rest our case, with the comfortable feeling that classical music is alive and well. ENJOY! - © 2011 Gloria Cajipe / FanFaire