Friday, February 7, 2014

I Challenge You to do Better, CBC Music, Please.

A few days ago I read a post on the CBC Music blog. The facebook post which I've embedded above advertised an interview with Yannick Nézet-Séguin on how classical music needs to change. In actuality it was a gallery with a few bullet-points. Frankly, it felt a bit cheap. The more I look at the website, the more I see CBC Music's classical section catering to a mythical online community that is content with little substance and celebrity.

The post was a miniature response to an article that was posted on a few weeks ago. That article has attracted a lot of attention in the blogosphere and, as Anne Midgette has stated, it has more likely distracted us from the current issues facing classical music than it has brought us closer to solving them. Instead of adding to the discussion about ongoing problems in the U.S., the Slate article has so far only polarized arguments around whether classical music is dead or alive.

The CBC has the resources and the contacts to run a series of pieces (or posts) from important insiders in the industry; to interview emerging artists and mid-career artists, both successful and unsuccessful; to help the public understand the challenges facing both our institutions and our artists and encourage a meaningful and educated discussion. Instead we're given a Flickr feed with a few captions coming from one of the most successful Canadian conductors working today; one who is highly visible already on the CBC Music website (click here and look at the article count). Granted, Nézet-Séguin's recommendations are ones I wouldn't argue with but they are so broad and aren't followed up with any supporting information, or further elaboration that I can only guess as to the purpose of the blog post itself. Yes, as stated Mr. Nézet-Séguin has a unique view - the view from the top - but he's the most convenient person to turn to in this instance. 

This is a subject which needs everyone's input, including Nézet-Séguin's, but I don't see our national carrier taking responsibility here, in my opinion. I believe that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has an obligation to educate the public; to elevate the quality of discussion. This post serves only to meet the expectations of the lowest common denominator. It's something someone might take a look at on their smartphone on the bus to work, then move on to the next thing having agreed on principle with all the points stated. If that's the intention, then what's the point posting it at all?

While I've lived in Switzerland for the past 18 months I've been immersed in the Early Music world. I've toured extensively and met a number of people who have had plenty to say about the current financial climate and its effects on the music industry. I've read articles both in the alternative and the mainstream and I know there are voices waiting to be heard, both here and abroad. It saddens me to see the level of engagement the CBC is hoping to engender in its audience with a post like this one, especially when it has the potential to be a very important soapbox. 

Are my expectations of our national access point for classical music too high? Am I so out of touch with Canada's connected classical fan club? I don't think so. 

Let's take a step forward. CBC Music, raise the bar. Please.

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