COC production of Die Walküre, Photo: Michael Cooper
Why are audiences turned off by modern classical music? Alex Ross, author of The Rest Is Noise, has written an engaging article in the Guardian exploring some contributing factors to the public’s general distaste for modern classical music. Ross has watched people leave during concert performances, and points out that
Some Prommers are still traumatised by the shock of encountering Harrison Birtwistle's ultraviolent piece at the 1995 Last Night of the Proms.
Panic - Harrison Birtwistle
Johan van der Linden Saxophone
Wilbert Grootenboer Drums
Doelen Ensemble olv Arie van Beek
9-10-10 De Doelen, Rotterdam
Isn't the best music supposed to stir emotion? I am stirred right in the pit of my stomach after listening to Panic.
In his article Ross describes a scientific theory that indicates a preference for simple tonality is wired into the human brain, and a sociological explanation that boils the issue down to the discomfort of being trapped in a seat for a prolonged period of time. After (thankfully) dismissing these theories, Ross offers the following insight