Preservation or Reformation?

by Johanna Schwarzl

Last week we read an interview on with director of the Styriarte music festival, Mathis Huber. In the interview Mathis says:
“It has been proven that society doesn’t miss the so-called bourgeois high-culture when it’s suddenly not there anymore. The Lamento about the closings of theaters mainly came from the cultural sector itself. […] I have observed that art is not to be found at the center of society but rather in its periphery, somewhere between public swimming pools and brothels. This observation is quite healthy, because it forces us to seek for ‘therapies’ which will bring art back into the heart of society. Of course, I exaggerate slightly but I find it curative to be made aware of the fact that the cultural sector only moves in its own bubble and mistakenly believes that this bubble encompasses the entire world.” (Burianek, Stephan: „Das klassische Bildungsbürgertum ist ausgestorben“ (24.06.2021).

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Quite a provocative statement! And yet: Is there a seed of truth? Have you ever questioned the relevance of art in nowadays society- specifically the classical music industry? Is it wrong to programme concerts according to the needs and preferences of the audience? Have you ever thought about your role in society as a musician? Are you content with the status quo?

In our course at The Exhale, “Reimagining Concerts”, Dan and I will address some of those questions. There are no simple solutions to complex issues, but if you are someone who wants to take action, this might be something for you.

Dan and I have often felt like a painting in a museum when we played concerts in “traditional concert settings”. That’s the picture we like to use to describe our perspective. Traditional operas and symphony concerts have a lot in

common with paintings in a museum: There is a strict frame, people must come to you in order to see/listen to you, the setting can be described as sacred and there is no direct interaction between artist and audience except through the art itself. But there is no interaction at all, if there is no understanding and education for this specific art.

We were made aware of this by many of our friends and family who are not from the cultural sector.

This led to our wish to reach out to a more heterogenic audience and, therefore, try new experiments and ideas, some of which worked, and some that didn’t.

In our course, we will show you inspiring approaches of successful artists, discuss the possibilities of artistic and non-artistic collaborations (if you’re wondering what those might be, sign up!), look into design thinking and learn about concert design.

Join the conversation