They Used To Call It Classical

SXSW panel reviews

Ballroom Dancing
Photo by John Anderson

They Used To Call It Classical

Austin Convention Center, Friday, March 16

If you're worried about the future of music, get in line. "Classical music has been dying a long time," said author Alex Ross, a music critic for The New Yorker, at this panel. "I can point you to articles from the Sixties that said all these opera houses and symphony halls are going to expire." The problem back then? Kids all wanted to listen to the Beatles and Stones. The solution – now as then? Keep an open mind. "When you find these organizations dying, you most often find that they don't let anything new in," offered panel moderator and music historian Ed Ward, slipping the grasp of economic anxiety. Ross and Ward were joined on the dais by Big Apple club owner Justin Kantor, electronica pioneer and computer composer Carl Stone, and Janet Cowperthwaite, the business and promotional manager of the San Francisco-based Kronos Quartet that's just released an album of Vladimir Martynov compositions. "Classical music, serious music, even pop music are all meaningless labels," said Stone, though no one offered an alternative. Kantor did nail a marketing tip all music fans could appreciate: "It's impossible to grow a new audience at a high ticket price."

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