Saturday, September 4, 2021

Classical Crossroads: The Path Forward for Music in the 21st Century


Classical Crossroads is a well reasoned and informative exploration of the future of live performance by a guy who certainly knows what's what in the world of classical music and performance. Due out 15th Sept 2021 from Rowman & Littlefield on their Amadeus imprint, it's 240 pages and will be available in hardcover and ebook formats. 

This was such a fascinating look behind the scenes into the inner workings of an orchestra as a living breathing entity. Maestro Slatkin describes the machinations and effort involved in conducting (including some illuminating truths on the philosophy, personalities, venues, and trappings which go into making a polished concert performance). 

He moves in concentric circles outward from the conductor, to the orchestra, to the agents, soloists and others who are involved, through the repertoire, musical selection and composers, outward to the media and finally to the recipients of this Brobdingnagian effort, the audiences. He examines how the audience itself has changed through the 21st century (for better or worse) and how (and if) performance should change to revitalize to face an uncertain future.

Some of the content written into the book arises from comments written on Slatkin's own website discussion threads. Most of the commentary is reasoned and interesting, some is slightly contentious. The book is well annotated throughout and the links and sources will provide keen readers with hours of further exploration and rumination.

All in all, I loved reading the personal anecdotes and recollections and I also enjoyed contemplating the issues the author discusses. I fear for the future of live performance, especially with the pandemic raging, and only hope that we can soon enjoy live concerts again and into the future. 

Four stars. Well written and interesting. 

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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