Anne Midgette has written a thoughtful, timely and deeply penetrating set of observations in the Washington Post on what happens when well-meaning orchestras take their product to neighbourhood schools.
In two words: not much.
Anne went with Gianandrea Noseda and other musicians to CHEC on 16th Street NW. They might have descended from another planet for all the kids understood what the maestro was saying to them, or for the impact it might leave on their precious minds.
How do you reach people who are new to classical music and make them want to come back? One answer is to give them the very best you can and hope something sticks, and that, Noseda is doing to the utmost. Orchestras across the country are experimenting with this kind of outreach program, but you don’t always see your marquee music director leading the concerts…
Connecting with people isn’t rocket science, but it’s an area in which classical music consistently struggles…
Very true. I have seen Mariss Jansons achieve something in the boondocks of Pittsburgh, putting a scratchy school orchestra through its paces, and I had exactly the same thought as Anne’s: will this make a difference to any of their lives?
I have gone with Baltimore players to a school under lockdown after the third shooting in a week. Again, I wondered: is this the best way? What do we have to offer in such dire circumstances?
It is, at best, a word in progress. Read Anne’s article here and reflect.