6 classical music personalities on the changes they hope to see and make in the New Year

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KATHLEEN FAY, Boston Early Music Festival, Executive Director

In 2020, Fay had hoped that the Boston Early Music Festival would be able to put on its usual biennial early music show – which draws performers, sellers, and fans from around the world – as planned for the summer of 2021. But with international travel always risky, she put the whole festival online. “My wish for 2022 would be to continue to focus on what we can do, not on what we cannot do. I know it sounds simplistic. . . but that’s my mantra for the future, ”she said. “Despite all the hopes, dreams and strategies for getting back to normal, I believe this is not the reality for the foreseeable future.”

Starting in the fall, BEMF began offering virtual and in-person tickets to its local concerts. Virtual concerts created two weeks after the live event, allowing the audiovisual team to take their time to create a quality experience for those who couldn’t be there in person. Thanks to these efforts, BEMF’s audience has grown worldwide. “I would love to see other technical achievements in terms of how we present virtual concerts,” said Fay. “To make it easier for customers to appreciate what we do; to make the real experience better. Better color, better sound. I have friends and colleagues all over Europe who thanked us for still presenting this beautiful music, throughout the pandemic. “

PHIL CHAN, last bow for Yellowface, founder; Boston Lyric Opera, consultant

Chan, a New York-based dancer and artistic administrator, co-founded “Final Bow for Yellowface” in an effort to encourage ballet companies to abandon stereotypes of Asians in popular works such as “The Nutcracker” and “La Bayadère”. “. Now he works with the Boston Lyric Opera as a consultant for the ongoing educational initiative “Butterfly Process”, which aims to combat offensive stereotypes in “Madama Butterfly”.

“The big New Year’s resolution that I hope to see in the performing arts is the shift from a Eurocentric to a multiracial way of producing,” Chan said. “Using diversity and inclusion not as something painful for us to do, but as a source of creativity instead of a burden. So what does this change look like? It sounds like a questioning: What point of view do we take when telling a story in an exotic location that might be real to some people? So you know, fantastic India, fantastic China, fantastic Middle East – how can we give to the composers, choreographers, artists and dancers in these communities. . . the same oxygen to make their art as we do with European art? A multiracial way of producing includes Puccini and Shakespeare and Verdi and everything in between. It just means we get more, it means it’s bigger.

MIKI SAWADA, pianist

For this Brighton-based pianist, it’s a bucket list goal of touring all 50 states with a piano in tow, hosting intimate concerts in community centers, backyards and anywhere she could set up her. keyboard. She was able to host several outdoor concerts across Massachusetts in May, shortly after vaccines became available to all adults.

“Everything with COVID is probably not going to end anytime soon, so I think we need to find ways to be more flexible” Sawada said recently. “And I think the best way to do that is to empower individual artists more, through all kinds of initiatives that allow artists to have more control over curation. We’re a lot more flexible than, say, Broadway – it’s on or off. But with classical music, sometimes we just need our instruments and our space. I think we’re really in a good position to do things on a much smaller scale that can still be really meaningful to members of the public.

LUCIA LIN, Boston Symphony Orchestra violinist

After Lin’s work dried up at the start of the pandemic, she teamed up with songwriter Gabriela Lena Frank for “In Tandem,” a duet commission project to help composers who had also seen their opportunities fade away. It wasn’t until Lin looked at the composers she had chosen that she realized that they were much more diverse than the usual repertoire of a symphony orchestra.

“Music communicates in such a visceral and powerful way, and everyone reacts to it differently. I think musicians can really be stewards of mainstream movements and raise social awareness, ”Lin said. “So I hope to continue to make connections outside of my small world with other art forms; maybe poetry, visual arts or theater. She wants to bring the “In Tandem” pieces to schools, in the hope that it can influence the children, “because I think the next generation is going to make a big difference,” she said. They ‘are going to have all these fabulous ideas and think outside the box, while my generation [baby boomers] was very traditional. I think we have to walk with them, support them and be resources for them. “

KEITH LOCKHART, Boston Pops, conductor

Boston Pops conductor Keith Lockhart said he was surprised to learn that during the virtual 2020 Holiday Pops season, 75% of the online audience was made up of viewers who normally don’t attend in person. With that in mind, he hopes to lure these newbies through the doors.

“My New Year’s resolution is to go and be a missionary for the importance of the arts as much as I can,” he said. “We’re not just a painting on the wall. . . but something that needs to be done and redone. Hope this sounds like full concert halls and people saying, “Wow, we really need to see this. Speaking of the orchestral world, it can cause us all to start looking at our programming choices and creating some really special things, which there aren’t 10 other great performances recorded on YouTube for. Not that the basic repertoire will no longer exist, but concerts will really have to turn into an experience that cannot be lived from a distance, that you have to come and see. ”

IMAN HABIBI, composer

This Iranian-Canadian composer wrote his short orchestral piece “Jeder Baum spricht”, which translates to “every tree speaks”, while imagining how Beethoven would react to the current climate crisis. The Boston Symphony Orchestra performed the piece during its virtual season last winter, pairing it with Beethoven’s Symphony No.6. “My hopes for our industry, the classical music industry, whatever you want to call it, are not much different from my hopes for the world at large,” Habibi said. “These global crises that we are experiencing at the moment: the pandemic. . . and the climate crisis. . . I hope the world we have after this is not only sustainable, but fulfilling and vibrant. When I go to a concert in the future [I want to] hear not only Beethoven, Bruckner and Mahler, but music from South America, Africa, Asia.

To achieve this, Habibi believes that a cultural shift in priorities is needed on several levels. “We need to rethink what prestige and success mean in this area,” he said. “There should be as much prestige given to free music education in under-represented communities as a premiere at Carnegie Hall. The pandemic has been tragic for our industry, and I think part of that was because we were vulnerable to what the pandemic struck: the gatherings. But at the same time, many of the issues that emerged during the pandemic were systemic issues that existed before the pandemic. So now we need to rethink what caused these problems in the first place. We had a hard reset. There is so much room to start over.


AZ Madonna can be contacted at [email protected] Follow her on twitter @knitandlisten.



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