Dilettante.com, a ground-breaking enterprise in classical music and social networking, has been taken down. Founder Juliana Farha said the site was not generating enough revenue in the present climate to make it viable.
Launched in January 2008, Dilettante was an edgy, innovative offering, pitched at under-40 culture vultures who would not be seen dead in a stuffed-shirt subscription concert. With its own composer in residence and a range of social concerts at offbeat venues, Dilettante’s editorial supporters included composers Nico Muhly and Jennifer Higdon, conductor Charles Hazlewood and the London Sinfonietta.
Based in central London, it had more than 5,000 members, its own radio outlet and a virbant ideal, dedicated to breaking down barriers between classical musicians and young audiences. In 2009, it was shortlisted in the Good Web Guide for website of the year.
‘The most exciting aspect for me,’ said Farha at launch, ‘is that people from all over the world are using the site to form relationships through a mutual love of classical music.’
But the enterprising Farha was thwarted by a tough economic climate, corporate record label self-interest and the timidity of classical institutions that declined to move out of pre-digital positions. The decision to close was taken in the past few days and members are presently being informed. This may not be the end of the party – there are talks afoot to explore a Dilettante revival – but it will be a sad New Year for many who hoped that classical music might be persuaded to drag itself out of the dark ages.
Juliana Farha, in pensive mood. Photo: Kevin Baxter, The Times.