In today’s society, it may seem like the relevance of classical music is dwindling, mostly due to the increasingly large and impactful nature of our popular culture. On the surface, it feels like the art of classical music has been eclipsed by technology, as well as by pop and rock concerts and the like. However, in many ways, classical music is strengthening, and the quality and popularity of the experience is back on the rise.
In the history of music, the importance of classical music is obvious. For centuries, instruments like violin and keyboard played the most popular music. Famous composers were placed on pedestals, and performances of their work drew huge crowds.
Much of this changed in the first half of the 20th century when genres like jazz, rock and pop were developing and becoming much more popular. This music was new, and it was danceable and easier to listen to casually. The tradition of symphony concerts and composing was still there, but in popular culture, it faded into the background for awhile.
Today, major symphony orchestras are doing a lot of work to increase their relevancy in our society. Pop concerts featuring music from movies and TV shows draw large, diverse audiences.
Within our state, the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra offers an outdoor summer concert series, inviting audience members to bring a blanket and a picnic while they listen to classical favorites and music from movies. Many orchestras do similar events, attempting and succeeding to draw a larger crowd in a much more casual setting. Today, there are many opportunities to listen to classical music without having to dress up and attend an expensive concert.
Though far away from Greensboro, The Metropolitan Opera in New York is also working to bring opera performance to a wider audience. The Met HD Live program brings live opera performances to movie theaters all over the world. The 2017-18 season will broadcast to over 2,000 screens in over 70 countries. These events draw sizable audiences, bringing the professional quality of the Met to interested viewers in their own cities’ theaters.
These are just a few examples of the many ways orchestras and classical music programs are reaching out to become more accessible to casual listeners. Beyond that, it is also an exciting time for current composers.
Film music is an exciting world of composing that is extremely relevant to our society. Without John Williams, we would not have the themes to “Harry Potter,” “Jurassic Park” and “Star Wars” that we know so well.
The music featured in films elevates the movie’s impact and excitement to another level. Consider intense and powerful movies like “Inception,” “Interstellar” and the recently released “Dunkirk.” All of these were composed by Hans Zimmer, and without him, these movies would not have nearly the impact on their viewers. These classical scores influence the viewer’s mood, drawing in faster lines for intensity and beautiful melodies for moments that are more emotional and tender, all following the plot and characters on screen.
With all of these new ways to listen to classical music, it is important to remember why classical music itself is so important. Engaging in classical music means engaging in history and gaining a greater musical understanding of it. Classical music invites listeners to focus, to truly get the meaning of the particular symphony or piece.
Classical music also offers the option of engaging through creating it, by learning an instrument or singing. Many scientific studies show that playing an instrument and creating music is extremely healthy for the brain, and it helps children’s development and their ability to learn.
Besides that, there is so much beauty to be found in classical music. There is not much that can compare to the flowing melodies in a Beethoven symphony or the rich, powerful texture found in Mahler.
Classical music is a broad title, filled with many different styles of music from different time periods and different countries. If you find you do not enjoy listening to Mozart, try Brahms. The options are endless, and if you want to listen to classical music, there are so many different places to start. You are sure to find something you enjoy.