The Growth of Classical Music in the 21st Century

One of the running themes here at my blog is how we talk about Classical Music and how that inflects what we know about the field as a whole. This goes back to what’s known as a prototype theory of language first articulated by Psychologiest, Eleanor Rosch, back in 1973 as a way to understand how we formulate categories. Each individual will have their own prototypical understanding of, say, Classical Music and that will influence how the whole field is understood and how it can be manipulated as a mental category. This in turn influences what we can see as the range of possibilities for actual members of the categories in the real world.

For example, if what you mean by “Classical Music” is the large traditional organizations, the SOBs (Symphonies, Operas, and Ballet Companies), then what is a salient feature of “Classical Music” is very different than if your category for Classical Music encompasses, say, the entirety of the field.

Complementary to that, another theme at this blog is that the Classical Music field is far larger an organization that can be easily and simplistically placed into the “Classical Music Crisis” rubric, because the crisis talk rarely entertains the fact that Classical Music doesn’t just consist of the troubled organizations we so often hear about in various media (both old print/broadcast, and digital/social).

The third prominent theme here is that of a Post-Pop world with significant Market Fragmentation which is bringing increasingly smaller returns to all forms of entertainment, not just Classical Music. This also means that it’s getting increasingly difficult to fund any organization, but especially the large ones–but this is happening in popular forms of entertainment to, so the hand wringing about bringing Classical Music into the broader culture amounts to bringing it into the fields which are already feeling the same issues anyway.

I’ve started a few blog post series to critically examine these points from various fields and directions, and plan on continuing those series, but for now I’m just going to point out some often overloooked parts of the Classical Music world which has shown some enormous growth (the previous post about Soundpainting Orchestras, Video Game Orchestras, Choral Organizations, and New Opera Companies barely scratch the surface of what’s happening in the broader Classical Music world).

I’m in the middle of finishing two composition projects and about to hit what is one of the busiest months (November) in a one of the busiest years I’ve had in nearly a decade, so will get to those series as I can. In the mean time, have a look at the list of organizations and when they were formed–you’ll notice a pattern emerging relatively quickly (and these lists are by no means complete) in that most of the “firm formation” has happened since the year 2000. Another pattern is that a significant proportion of these new organizations have at least some tie to technology and in some cases (e.g. Laptop Orchestras and Ensembles and Telematic Performance Groups) technology is central to how they operate.

Until I get back to regular blogging, check out some of these new and exciting trends in Classical Music below.

Note that I haven’t even begun to take a look at the growing Early Music Groups and other more traditional New Music Groups (is that an oxymoron?) out there yet and once you add in the Ethnic Orchestras (many of which are constantly commissioning and performing new works) which are growing in pace with the rising immigrant population of the US, well…



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