I was making my daily visit to blognoggle to see who’s saying what in the classical blogosphere today, and, in amidst all the obituaries for Elizabeth Schwartzkopf, I saw a headline which was made up entirely of my name. Quite a surprise.
So- big thanks to Steve Hicken at Listen for posting this. I’m really delighted that people are taking an interest in things I’m talking about here.
Perhaps it is a symptom of hard times, but I feel like classical artists have slightly lost our voices in today’s world. I would say that this applies particularly to conductors and composers. Maybe it is because our field has become so competitive that no one wants to risk losing a gig because they’ve said something in print that others might disagree with? Perhaps we’re so careful not to alienate audience members, donors, board members and supporters that we’ve become too scared to talk to them? Maybe we’re just to busy to get involved?
In any case, could it be that our absence from the important conversations of our day is one reason  that so many people no longer think that our art form is truly relevant. Schumann and Berlioz were not just composers, they were commentators, critics and participants. They wrote, and their writings were read by other musicians, by audience members and the general public. 
Even more urgently, perhaps if we become less afraid to speak to each other, we can make our little corner of the culture more relevant, more interesting and more vibrant. I’m ready to take a little risk and put my point of view (or at least part of it!) out there.

c. 2006 Kenneth Woods

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About the author

American conductor, composer and cellist Kenneth Woods is Principal Conductor of the English Symphony Orchestra, Artistic Director of the Colorado MahlerFest and cellist of the string trio Ensemble Epomeo. He records for the Avie, Somm, Nimbus, Signum, MSR and Toccata labels.

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