Hi All,

I'm Australian, and there is so little contemporary classic music from living composers on our radio stations that you'd think no one is writing "classical" music anymore.

I'm interested to know if your radio stations play Contemporary Classical Music?

Best,

Rob

 

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          • I suppose it's dysgenics setting in. Primaryand secondary education in the UK has right gone down the tubes. Kids of 11 who can't yet read or write and things like long multiplication/division are out. Kids who've never heard of Shakespeare or Mozart. Hopefully as they get older, if they don't end up in the clink they might wake up to how vacuous their lives are and take an interest in cultural things although I suspect they'll always be sheep, doled out their propaganda by the media.

            Consoling though that there are people who do take an interest and hopefully they'll perpetuate this through their family. I was looking after two students at one point and while one has 'gone commercial' with her music, she's keen to listen to contemporary work and decide on a case-by-case basis if she'll follow the composer.

      • By radio station website I was thinking of things like the National Public Radio web site in the US and its affiliate Public Radio websites in most states.  I don't know how popular they are with young people, but I believe they have a substantial audience that listens to music by them.

        • If these radio listening figures are correct, it might surprise some Americans. https://musicalpursuits.com/radio It surprised me. 

          Radio Statistics in 2023 (Listening & Advertising) - Musical Pursuits
          Despite the common belief that radio is dead and not relevant to younger generations, radio still has the highest reach across all mediums and is an…
          • Wow. Color me surprised too!  It certainly runs counter to my expectation and perception that younger people don't listen to radio anymore.

             

  • Here in Canada where I live, our national broadcaster, the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) runs a channel called CBC Radio 2 which, it seems to me, used to be more focused on classical programming than it is today. The current programming limits classical to certain slots during the day (typically midday) while featuring content in the realms of (quote) "art-pop and the avant garde" and "singer-songwriters, roots and urban music", world music, etc. during prime-time hours. Within one of the few classical slots Radio 2 features, there is a mix of both old chestnuts and new works.  Overall, though, the percentage of airplay devoted to new classical composers and their works is somewhat minimal over the course of a 24hr day.  And yet, in relative terms, CBC Radio 2 is probably doing a better job in that regard than just about any other channel I can think of, at least in this country.

    All of this makes me think about how classical music is marketed to the mainstream public as part of the problem. Everywhere I look, whether a radio playlist or on Spotify or even symphony calendars, classical music tends to be sold on the basis of "relaxation" featuring old favourites that are not too challenging to the listener. If you're a cutting edge, present-day composer, you won't fit into that realm and you might live a pretty threadbare existence counting on performers to record your work for inevitably limited distribution on niche labels or perform it live in small-scale venues. From following some modern composers I like, it appears that if you want to make a go of music as your living, you probably need to devote some if not most of your time on commercial gigs - composing for video games or jingles or soundtracks - which seems to me to be less than ideal, artistically.  Also, music education in general seems to have been going down the tubes generally over the decades such that most young people come into adulthood with limited to no awareness or appreciation of the awesome contributions to western culture that composers have made; not just the renowned ones from centuries gone by, but also those composing today who might not be widely recognised for some time into the future. Philip Glass and Arvo Part are just about the only living, modern day composers I can think of who have achieved renown in their time, combined with commercial success. But even then, when do you ever see their names come up in radio playlists? 

    Meanwhile, the disposable tissue paper of commoditized pop music churned out by "celebrity entertainers" continues to sell boatloads. Go figure.

    • From following some modern composers I like, it appears that if you want to make a go of music as your living, you probably need to devote some if not most of your time on commercial gigs - composing for video games or jingles or soundtracks - which seems to me to be less than ideal, artistically.

      True story: a composer acquiantance of mine had to resort to tuning pianos in order to pay the bills. Not even composing cheap stuff, not even performing at some cheap gig, tuning pianos. That's how bad it is.

      It's for reasons like these that when I was in college choosing what program to go into, music was the first thing struck off my list.  It just wasn't a practical choice to make a living out of (don't even talk about career, in all likelihood you wouldn't even be able to pay the bills). But on the other hand, that wasn't entirely a bad thing... now I have a full-time job in the software industry, and can compose in my free time without worrying about how to make ends meet. And without having to stoop down to composing popular trash in order to pay the bills. (Or, heaven forbid, tune pianos.)  I can continue writing fugues with impunity even if I only ever get a total audience of 1. :-P

      • So true!  Funny, your story made me harken back to when I was, like, 16, and my two music teachers at school at the time both let it be known they thought I had enough potential to go on to pursue an education in music (I wasn't dabbling in composing back then, just playing trombone in the band) but my slightly authoritarian and very conservative Old World Dad let it be know this was not to be supported. So I withered, backed down. And pursued a university education in a completely different field. For years after that, I remember feeling some resentment that I wasn't supported in pursuing my dream vocation. But then, concurrently, I heard more and more stories of people actually working as professional musicians who all said that same thing - the music industry sucks.  Not the job mind you, the industry.  That includes a classmate from high school who went on to become a jazz singer and pianist. I ran into her some years ago and when asked "how's the music career going?" she regaled me at length with rants about how everybody expects her to perform at various functions but don't want to pay her - supposedly any gig is "good exposure". Her response was (and I totally agree) "Look, man, I went to university for just as many years to get my music education as you did to get your accounting education and nobody asks you to do the books for exposure and no pay, so why should I plat for you for free?".  Anyways, as conflicting a feeling as it is, maybe I have to begrudgingly admit my Dad was right and unless I had a truly remarkable talent (which, realistically, I didn't) I was never going to have a materialistically comfortable life following my dream.  But here we are and we can enjoy it on other terms.  

        • Anyways, as conflicting a feeling as it is, maybe I have to begrudgingly admit my Dad was right and unless I had a truly remarkable talent (which, realistically, I didn't) I was never going to have a materialistically comfortable life following my dream.

          Even if you're remarkably talented, it doesn't guarantee anything. In this day and age, you have to be "discovered" by some powerful "manager" or "agent" who's willing to promote your work (and in all likelihood exploit you while he's at it, cf. Michael Jackson). You can have all the talent you want, but if you're some unknown nobody, you won't get anywhere far.

          But here we are and we can enjoy it on other terms.

          Indeed. I think these other terms are much more amenable than trying to eke out a career in the shark pond that's today's music industry.

          • Agreed and agreed. On the other hand, it would be nice to figure out a way to garner even a wee little "salon" audience for one's works and despite not making much (or even any) money off it, nevertheless have the pleasure of entertaining people with performances of one's own original works. I mean, for me I think it would be really cool someday to do a recital where I sit down at the piano and play only original compositions for a 1/2 hour or so. And hear people actually applaud. Like you suggest, a humble aspiration but yet doing it all on one's own terms without the interference of pesky commerce.  

            •  For usthere is only the trying. The rest is not our business.

                                                                                                 -- T.S. Eliot

               

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