Orchestras, opera companies, halls and theatres embroiled in bitter labour disputes. Reductions in funding that threaten to close treasured artistic institutions. The twenty first century is both an exciting and terrifying time to devote one’s life to art.
It may be stating the obvious: most music is currently so undervalued by society that only a few live shows stand any chance of making money. Musicians need to devote many hours of preparation and study to their art, and unless musicians can prove to society that music is worth supporting there are presently two possible outcomes: the music stops or the musicians starve.
The pursuit of wealth, rather than the richness of a full life, has become the main focus of contemporary society, and so music, along with values such as integrity and compassion has been pushed ever more to the sidelines. Like music, these human values – as the current round of financial scandals so clearly demonstrates – are apparently irrelevant to the single-minded pursuit of wealth!
How has this situation come about?
Since the Industrial Revolution and accelerating through the rise of recording and the Internet Revolution to the present day, music has increasingly been seen as a commodity. Classical music in particular has been pushed to the margins of society because it has sold itself simply as entertainment rather than an art form with a whole host of demonstrable benefits for humanity (entertainment value can be huge, but it is only one benefit of many).
Does it matter if the music stops?
I believe it does: a flourishing musical culture is one of the vital signs of a society that is alive to the beauty of life. If we lose this, it will mean the shadowy, avaricious, acquisitive at all costs side of human nature has triumphed. If that happens it is only a few generations before we have wrecked our culture and wrecked our planet along with it.
One of the aims of this Blog is to explore the question “Why is music important?” why has it played such a central role in human experience throughout history, how does it interact with, and why is it so vital now to the future of our globalising, interconnecting world.
In answering these questions, I hope that this blog will share experiences, promote discussion and debate and in the process unearth many examples of the value of music. I also hope that this shared knowledge will enable colleagues to be ever more passionate and vocal advocates for music’s place in society.