Is classical music entertainment?

Recently, the very traditional world of classical music has been revitalized by people trying new things (and not a moment too soon). One of my favorites: Time for Three, who call themselves the world’s first “classically trained garage band.”

They are, first and foremost, GREAT players, trained at one music’s elite academies, the Curtis Institute. But they also put on a great show, playing original compositions, tunes by Mumford and Sons, and mashups of Grieg’s Holberg Suite with Led Zeppelin and Justin Timberlake. Next week’s playlist will be about “cover” songs, and I’ll include some of their tunes.

I’ve gotten to back these guys up twice this season, including last weekend with the ProMusica Chamber Orchestra.













As we walked offstage, my stand partner, Joel, (who is an innovator too – check out his group Revel) said “Kind of points out the obvious, doesn’t it – we’re in the entertainment business.” A simple statement, to which many people would say “Duh” but many others (mostly ones in the business) would say “Oh, no – what we do is too important and meaningful to be called entertainment.”

This is one of classical music’s biggest challenges – those of us who perform it see it as a a transcendent, even spiritual experience worth making an effort for, and many potential audience members think of it as just one of many choices for their leisure time. Both views are right, I think, but classical music organizations have had a hard time getting more people to come to concerts because of this difference.

Time for Three has one approach that tries to bridge that gap, and they are making a good case for shaking things up. It’s not the only solution, but it’s a good one, I think. Please post your comments, and add groups or performers you think are changing the concert world for the better.

Till Monday (and the new playlist),


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