Elspeth Hanson plays Viola in the group, Bond, and wrote this blog for BPI about the changes in classical music.

Elspeth Hanson plays Viola in the group, Bond, and wrote this blog for BPI about the changes in classical music.

Readers don’t need me to remind them that the world in 2019 is a rapidly changing place from the traditions many of us have grown up with, and accepted previously ‘as normal’. And while social change is not something one would associate with classical music, given its strong historical traditions, the reality is that change is very much afoot and with pace!

I understand as a classical musical performer with Bond, that for casual listeners classical music can seem a bit stuffy, or not as relevant to younger generations as say rap, hip-hop or other newer genres. But... classical music continues to reinvent itself voraciously year on year. Sales and streams are increasing more than any other genre, by a massive 10.2% in 2018.   The roll out of the new classical radio  station by Bauer fronted by Simon Mayo signifies the growing demand from fans for more access to the music.  

Artists such as my own quartet, Bond are continually seeking and exploring new avenues for expressing the beauty of classical music through different mediums. We in Bond are always keen to engage our audiences musically, visually, and through simply having fun with what we play. We love to develop classical pieces in a fun way that is interesting and enjoyable for people young and old, regardless of gender, nationality or class. This is what brought Bond together and what keeps the ‘joie de vivre’ in our playing!  It’s important that girls and women see others leading from the front; musicians, composers, presenters, authors and so on, this is what we can hope inspires generations to come.

The rise of online music platforms such as YouTube, Apple Music and Spotify have given audiences much more freedom and choice in what they want to listen to. It has also removed the cost barrier and the geographical for artists to share their work with audiences. A bassoonist in Indonesia can connect with a listener in Indiana just as easily as you can read this blog! For us music lovers of both the traditional and crossover classical music, access can but only be a good thing. 

In spite of the increased choice and availability, classical music continues to develop and grow rapidly. One example is the film industry, each week new films are released for global consumption, each with newly penned classical pieces and written specifically to engage a modern audience. 

A modern audience expects music to be current in its relevance, to be gender blind, colour blind, class blind….and as artists embrace these changes, so too do the audiences. For those who fear that classical music could die with rapid social change and new genres of music- the opposite appears to be happening. Classical music is booming….but be prepared for it to look and sound a bit different!