Classical Music is dead... Long Live Classical Music!

19. desember 2014 Skrevet av Brendan Jan Walsh

During the international conference Classical:Next in Vienna Classical Music was pronounced dead. She passed away at 7:04 AM on Saturday 17 May 2014. At 11:00 AM Brendan Jan Walsh delivered a eulogy, followed by a proclamation of the next generation of music professionals.



We are gathered here today because we have lost somebody very dear to us. This morning, classical music has died. Classical Music (let us call her Clara) and I go a long way back, as I am sure we all do. I believe I was five when I consciously met her. In my further life as a cellist, conductor, DJ, manager, producer or just as a fanatic listener she has given me many unforgettable moments. I especially liked the rebel in her, that tireless fighting spirit.


Does anybody know when she was born? My grandmother told me that Hildegard von Bingen had something to do with it, yet that nobody really knows who her father was.


Clara had a very eventful life and it is impossible to name all those who were dear to her. Nevertheless, I shall mention a few who have clearly had an important influence on her until the day she died…


Clara grew up as a polyglot thanks to the care and attention of Orlandus Lassus. She then developed into a brilliant young personality through her relationship with J.S. Bach. When she hit puberty, she grew into a bit of a prankster with her BFF at the time, Joseph Haydn. At university she turned into quite the party animal and set many houses and families on fire with the terribly flirtatious Wolfgang A. Mozart.


After his death she grew more responsible and learned that she could also survive independently. With a little help from her friend Ludwig van Beethoven she became a true entrepreneur. Realizing all the new potential she subsequently worked herself into a quarter-life crisis and became very emotional. Clara travelled Europe and had many stormy relationships with romantic men and the occasional woman. She experimented with various drugs and was inspired the new world whilst hanging out with friends such as Dvorak and Debussy who told tales of cultures around the world.


The human fight over territory and industry, also known as the Great War, completely threw Clara off balance. She became provocative and traumatised. Her friends Shostakovich, Prokofiev and Scriabin did what they could, but our Clara grew ever more distant and abstract. In the meantime she joined a highly intellectual club called the second Viennese school. Towards the end, she spoke cryptically in series of notes, and in her final years she seemed to return to the solemn core of her being and remained quite silent in the company of Glass, Reich, Pärt and Cage.


Personally, I will remember Clara as a force of nature who always managed to bring people together. Whenever she entered a room the atmosphere would change, usually for the better. She inspired society to reflect on its actions and often brought peace. She made us feel, as if she had direct access to our emotions. She made us all laugh, cry, shout, fight, dance, relax and sleep.


However, a certain Mr E. Tiquette – in reverence of her beauty I’m sure – idolised her so that he overly protected her from lesser-developed circles. Clara’s parties became more exclusive causing her to lose touch with the world around her.


How did she die? I dare not say with certainty until a proper autopsy has been performed, but I do presume that she suffered a severe superiority complex caused by an infection of collective pretentiousness in combination with chronic elitism. Mr E. Tiquette has been arrested on suspicion of murder, yet until proven guilty he will not be charged, neither should he be used as a scapegoat. Many of you also contributed to her death…


The baby-boomers (the generation of people born after the second World War) in their desire to protect Clara’s beautiful song, caged her like a bird and told people to visit her in a dedicated venue to hear her sing. But you cannot cage a bird as magnificent as a phoenix. The baby-boomers killed Clara.


Fortunately though, Clara is a phoenix, a firebird. She has been reborn and is already regenerating, but in doing so, she had to shed her beautiful feathers and is seeking a new tree to build her nest. I hope she will lay miraculous eggs and I look forward to see what wonders will be born from them. Clara is alive and kicking!




What happens when a ruler dies? A new fresh breath takes the throne, baring a wealth of knowledge from the past and new ideas for the future. Exactly that is now happening in the land of classical music; countless historical documents were recorded to recount the many heroic tales of Clara. Now is the time for innovation and change… and that is what Generation Y is all about!


Generation Y is born between 1978 and 2000. They are the largest generation of youth in history and are also known as the millennials or the Trophy generation, as they are used to receiving rewards for their activities, regardless of the actual achievement.


We know from many studies and experts (just google: “Who is generation Y”) that they have grown up naturally collaborative, talented, open-minded, flexible and they thrive 24/7 on social media; all characteristics that are well-suited to the new economy. Generation Y demands that the workplace reflects their values and personal growth; they want work that is meaningful whilst allowing them to put family first.


For the sake of this article, let us imagine a girl called Jenny as an average Western representative of generation Y.



Jenny is 27 years old. She enjoyed higher education. She has travelled internationally and has friends globally (who she hasn’t necessarily met in real life yet). She works hard but tries to save time for personal development, friends and family. Work-life balance is very important to her and would prefer a job that gives her enough time out of the office, rather than lots of money but no life. She is online a lot, craving for news from around the world concerning friends as well as global current affairs. Jenny grew up in a positive learning environment in which she got many compliments. She has become a confident young woman with very high expectations of herself, a feeling that is fed through the profiles of her peers on the social media.  The apparent success of her friends adds extra pressure to her need to achieve. It leaves her feeling insecure and she is afraid to miss out.




Clara and Jenny are getting to know each other more and more thanks to many dates set up for them in different countries, organised by Jenny’s generation-Y peers. From these dates we learned 14 tips to build an exciting relationship between Classical Music and Generation Y.


[A brief summary is given of Jenny’s peers and the projects they successfully organised for a generation Y audience. By clicking on the title you will be redirected to a video that demonstrates some of the 14 key success factors described below]


Rheingold on the Rhine (NL)

In July of 2013, the Rhineland saw a ship of 135 meters long transporting a precious cargo; the hold contained a complete musical theatre! Rheingold on the Rhine was an international production of the opera Das Rheingold by Richard Wagner and the symphonic show The Wagner Experience. On board: ninety orchestral musicians of the Utrecht Student Concert, a full cast and crew and 500 guests. 7600 visitors spread over 17 performances have enjoyed this incredible production that was organised by a 7-headed committee of generation Y students from Utrecht. Impressively the tickets for the opera cost between €30 and €150 of which all tickets for the opera were sold out! (



Those are the three things that matter in real estate… Well, many more things matter to Clara and Jenny, but location is definitely a very important one. Jenny is curious, keen to discover and adventurous. Buildings dedicated to a certain activity, like a concert hall, are considered rather boring. But if you manage to bend the rules and open up a factory, a primary school, a bunker, a brewery or simply a tree house for a concert, then you can count on an approving nod from Jenny. Are the acoustics not optimal? That’s not the end of the world.


We probably all remember saying or hearing: “It is important that our youth is made aware of classical music”. You must do this, Jenny, you must do that! But Jenny is perfectly able to decide for herself what she considers important. She has very little time to spare, yet the time that she has available will be invested in something that combines fun, interest and personal growth. Jenny WANTS to be involved, so let her. She is intelligent, dedicated and independent. Moreover, she is willing to invest and would be able to generate lots of interest from her friends if she got the opportunity to organise something for them. All help is welcome, just don’t boss her around.



Jenny has friends from all over the world thanks to the social media and she is not afraid to use them! Jenny is not a firm believer in capitalism and much prefers the economy of sharing. Sharing knowledge, network, skill and time. If somebody has expertise, then why not simply ask whether they want to join in with her fascinating project? Check out how many professional organisations were keen to join the party on the cargo ship of Rheingold on the Rhine!


Concertgebouw Entrée Late Night Café (NL)

At the Entrée Late Nights a mix of musical genres and art forms meet in the Concertgebouw Amsterdam, as do Clara’s young lovers. Earlier in the evening, more than 3000 active members of Entrée can go to a themed concert of the AAA-series for a very low price. Entrée is organised by a committee of Jenny’s peers. (ée - in Dutch)



Jenny is very knowledgeable and always keen to learn more. However, hot topics that are covered in the media and in the top of her mind (often human interest) will more easily attract her attention. Jenny likes activities that focus on current affairs of particular interest to her such as privacy, the sublime, the human body, neighbours, layers, expectations, origin… At every Concertgebouw Entrée Late Night Café the programme is centred around such a theme.



What Jenny enjoys about the Entrée Late Nights is that she is certain to meet like-minded people who enjoy a cocktail of concentrated listening, chatting and dancing. The Entrée community consists of many Jennies who are all similarly different. They like to network with their peers and share their knowledge and experiences, personally or professionally.



Going to the Entrée late nights, Jenny picks up on trends. The topic of  the night: Privacy (did you see the video?) makes for interesting conversation and fellow late night visitors are happy to point out social media movements such as #Snapchat and #unselfies in a reaction against the NSA scandals. Jenny is now curious how the FOMO (fear of missing out and wanting to be seen where and when it matters) will evolve. It’s likely to be a topic in one of the next Entrée Late Nights! (Check out CLOAKING for example)


Classical Music Rave (NL)

The Classical Music Rave is exactly what it says it is. It combines all elements of a great all-night dance party including deejays, live musicians, surprise acts, whopping sound & light in stunning venues, sex, drugs and… classical music. Of course, an audience of young, enthusiastic and sometimes even fanatic music lovers make the night complete. The rave was conceived at a brainstorm with 20 of Jenny’s friends in Amsterdam and will soon have its first international edition in Brazil. (



The producers of the Classical Music Rave made it a point of pride to organise the first editions without any financial support. No governments, no financial sponsors, no bosses. Goodwill as currency with freedom of choice as result. Jenny appreciates how her friends manage to demonstrate that the world is not entirely run by big corporates and that it is possible to change the ‘rules of conduct’ associated with a musical style that she wants to learn more about, but away from the stuffy grey suits. 



Although Jenny is highly educated and very aware of social etiquette, she does not want to spend her valuable spare time in surroundings that make her feel uncomfortable. Jenny is used to speaking when she wants, moving around freely and dressing how she likes. There is no particular way to dance to classical music, so nobody will judge her experimental new moves, nor will anybody be surprised that she is sipping from her drink whilst listening to the live music sets.



The one thing that REALLY annoys Jenny is being patronized. Of course she knows that it is important to learn about cultural heritage and that silence and discipline can lead to continuous self-improvement. Don’t tell her and her friends to go to a classical concert because it is good for her. Let her discover that herself and - if you really want to – offer her the facilities to do it her own way with her own friends.


Y-night (CH)

The classical innovation community classYcal is determined to help bring innovation to the field of classical music and exactly what triggers Jenny’s entrepreneurial mind!  Electronica mixed with instrumental sounds, colorful 2- and 3D animations visualizing more- and lesser known pieces and adding depth to the experience, classical stars who perform short, compact acts in clubs, surrounded by DJ-sets and visuals… a lot is moving and shaking in the young classical scene and slowly but surely a new sub culture with sex appeal emerges. (Ynight fb fanpage)



Even if the music was written 400 years ago, why should it then be performed exactly the same way? Jenny’s great-great-…-great grandparents used to read by candlelight. We can still do so, but it is more relaxing with a reading lamp or more interactive with a tablet. There are pros and cons for technology, but Jenny is keen to experiment with it and its possibilities. A fine example is the development of the Live Music Animation Machine by Stephen Malinowksi and Etienne Abelin.



In a world of thousands of impulses per hour, it is great but also challenging to focus on only sound. Visuals can on one hand help Jenny understand the complexities of music, on the other provide an added dimension to the musical experience. In fact, Jenny is most triggered by the overall experience of going somewhere so any event that takes into account her senses and emotion will earn her attention.



In the film industry, many different kinds of artist cooperate towards the same goal of making a film that will excite audiences. Why would different musicians not do the same? Jenny doesn’t expect anything less from classical musicians and electronica producers, composers, VJs and DJs. Ynight knows she’s right!



A new music scene is emerging in London… Over the last few years ‘classical club-nights’ have become an increasingly visible feature of the city’s nightlife. This has been fuelled by the next generation of classical performers, composers and promoters who are redefining the rule and breaking out of the constraints of the traditional concert hall. At the forefront of this new movement is Nonclassical, a club-night and record label founded by composer Gabriel Prokofiev in 2004. (



Jenny = the audience = the musicians = the organizers

The artists and audience represent the same young generation of music lovers who are searching for the latest exciting developments in music. Jenny appreciates that Nonclassical presents Classical as if it were Rock or Electronic music. Classical music is part of Jenny’s lifestyle and this Nonclassical night is part of rediscovering its relevance.



What every project mentioned above has in common is that it seeks to achieve the highest possible quality, whether it is on the level of artistic mastery, technical equipment, organization or communication. The overall experience it what really matters to Jenny. Never underestimate her, she has extremely high expectations. If they are not met, then you might not see her – or her many friends – ever again!



Royalty, even the pope, abdicates sooner than most of the gatekeepers of classical music. Maybe it's time you do too. The initiative is yours to take. You'll continue to have influence and legacy, but please show your trust in the new generation. They are out there and they are developing their own projects anyway. So invite them to your parties or visit them unannounced. Jenny and her friends are not so difficult to find. There are many ways to reach out and invite her for a date. You can do that both online an offline.



Jenny is active on the social media, exchanging information and happy to work in an open source environment. Jenny will share with you if you share with her.



you can find her at work or studying. Go to parties, receptions, clubs and similar events to the ones described in this article. Chances are very high you will find her there! Or organize an event at a special location for her and her friends through which you can demonstrate your interest to build a future together.


If you have appreciated this article, you will be clever enough to invite Jenny and her friends to organize the event themselves. Always be sure to communicate on an equal level and never cease to seduce. Guide, but let them lead! Connecting Clara to Jenny, really, it’s a bit like dating!




If you feel the need for a matchmaker or desire more information about young trends in classical music, don’t hesitate to contact the writer of this presentation outline: Brendan Jan Walsh (Classical Music Mutineer)