Anyone with a keen eye in the music industry will know that there are some genres that are doomed to extinction and others that are only going to be truly appreciated by people at the periphery. Classical music is one of these genres. Although it was all the rage in the 18th and 19th centuries, it has been squeezed out of the mainstream and is now mostly enjoyed by old pensioners and the odd musically inclined young adult or teenager. Classical music appreciation, unfortunately, is almost non-existent amongst the younger members of our society. It has to compete with the likes of Taylor Swift and Eminem and their packaged, consumer-friendly tunes and rhythms.
I find it interesting, therefore, when musicians or music institutes go out of their way to adapt themselves to current trends and styles, often to the dismay of musical purists. Last month, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra held a Star Wars themed classical concert, a risky venture that only a few classical music establishments would dare organize. It surprised many music commentators, therefore, that the concert was a hit and that hundreds of people from across the musical spectrum attended. I am not a keen classical music fan, but I think Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s little experiment has a lot to teach practitioners of “fringe” genres like classical music.
The event was extensively marketed to kids and teenagers, segments of our populace that literally idolize Star Wars characters and identify immediately with the franchise. A music formalist might disagree with the organizers of the event and say that marketing classical music defiles the art, but I think the event was a great way to get the younger generation interested in classical music. By luring them in with a known entertainment franchise and by adding a few bells and whistles, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra was able to leave an imprint, however feeble, in these young minds. They may not all turn out to be classical music connoisseurs, but at least they will understand the genre a little better now.