How do we connect community and symphony so they truly sustain each other into the future?
It’s pretty safe to say that most Americans will chuckle or laugh at this question. For some time now, classical music has stopped enjoying the mainstream status it once held in American culture. It is now simply too much to expect even half of the country to ponder why they won’t go out of their way for classical music, esp. given our inexpensive access to plenty of popular music today. Bringing new fans into classical music would seem a fool’s errand. We may need great music to help us cope through tough times, but is the extra effort required for classical really worth it? Yet many do love the rush of discovering more great music, of any kind. So why o why does classical music remain so far off the radar?
We believe using classical music is essentially impractical.
1) Few of us took up classical instruments in school and our parents ignored classical.
2) The history of this genre is too remote and overwhelming to jump in without guidance.
3) On the internet, streaming still doesn’t give us much context, insight or personality.
4) Classical concerts seem daunting, demanding, restrained, judgmental, even surreal.
5) New listeners don’t know how to draw meaning from largely instrumental music.
6) Classical presenters don’t market very broadly, as if we don’t want a broader public.
So CutTime is developing itself as a solution to all but the first issue; to liberate the music universally, to create an open window on the polished walls of this tradition, so the masses might discover what is at risk and symphony concerts might welcome new fans.
If the average American today doesn’t know how or why to go beyond rubbing the surface of instrumental music, nor do they have the opportunity at the end of the day. And if classical music institutions, while needing a flood of diverse new ticket-buyers, donors and goodwill, don’t know why or how to answer the unasked questions that keep regular new fans at arms length, will orchestras, musicians and audiences rally with effective services to re-introduce classical to the rest of America?
CutTime is dedicated to meeting REAL America with valuable experiences, teasing out what people are hungry for: novelty, information, connection, animation, participation, context, personality, humor and meaning. CutTime is a progressive and collaborative new arm for an industry at the crossroads, reconciling burning questions about human nature and fine art music to leap at REAL solutions, ensembles, musicians, music and services that can make classical click almost anywhere. Our perspective, insights and methods put into practice conclusions reached by the Knight Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, the League of American Orchestras, the Wallace Foundation and WolfBrown.
CutTime is an effective pioneer in this new frontier, placing classical musicians and orchestras around and within popular culture, to prepare future fans with a New Classical tradition. In partnership with major institutions, we produce opportunities to open hearts and minds, bust stereotypes, facilitate dialogue and start feeding the masses hungry for meaningful alternative musics. We create some vacuum and feed this music into it with indelible experiences. What IF we could make 5% of symphony concerts a slam dunk event for 1% of all Americans? Isn’t that worth developing?
By definition, refined and challenging art music cannot also be popular. However, if pop culture favors hard-edged, beat-driven, socially-conscious music sung by colorful personalities, then optimistically, a third of these are cultural omnivores are likely curious about classical. How then do we create context that is immediately accessible for them? How do we reward curiosity for the symphony and create more? Is it possible to compare sonata and song, so that both listeners and performers discover each other? Are we willing to give in order to take? What key ideas, analogies, images or activities immediately clue newcomers into the sport of instrumental music-making?
CutTime hits the reset button on the symphony, starting with two classical ensembles featuring sexy new originals and lively symphonic covers, anchoring our popular club classical series. These are enhanced by amplification, analogies, historic overview, multimedia, humanities and audience participation. We perform everything from relaxed community open jam reading sessions in clubs, restaurants and homes to traditional concerts in acoustic halls, festivals, churches and schools. We show up where the people already gather; even fudge shops and flash mobs, and all with your local musicians to spread the art of community-building.
By demystifying classical where people are, by listening, opening and relaxing, CutTime lights the road into the community. We navigate this road validating traditional concerts (pure) for an urban community fully deserving access to the dramatic power of classical music.
CutTime’s expertise and library, commitment and enthusiasm, grew from within a major symphony orchestra, maintaining its reputation, rewarding discerning veterans with performances, tours and recordings at the world-class standard. Yet as the national appetite for “high” culture continued to shift and fragment, CutTime also followed major efforts in the last 20 years to address audience decline for classical.
CutTime began to ask many provocative questions. What good are we musicians, if we can’t convince more friends and family to attend our concerts? Can people see how excited and passionate we are through our formality? How compelling can our concerts be if newcomers come only once? Are concerts too sacred? Are we spoiled by patronage? Are we just preaching to the choir? Are the doors of our temple too heavy to open? Doesn’t everyone deserve this? Are we too afraid to play out in our urban communities or in less than ideal conditions? Are symphonies only effective in the concert hall? Can’t symphonic music be lively, casual, amplified, introduced, adaptable, personal and affective? Can’t classical music also be entertaining?
CutTime means to show how it can be all of these.
The classical tradition in the concert hall is by definition restrained, formal and refined. This presentation style developed to maximize the internal experience and impact of music. We listen silently, internalizing in a spirit of meditation. And yet for unprepared newcomers, first impressions of this formality can be confusing, cold and lasting. It might seem similar to going to an strange church service. Even the word classical turns off so many. Isn’t this largely because no musicians can offer to explain why we call it so? (Hint: the music is inspired by revivals of the classical Greek virtues.) While it didn’t start so, we came to prefer that all concerts should remain meditative, formal, sacred— without talk or extra-musical devices (clean, sanitary, pure).
CutTime is calling for a balanced future, when orchestras will purposefully loosen hard-won standards to step off the pedestal and invite the wider public inside the music with real interactivity; such as musicians speaking casually with their audience. CutTime inspires progressive work with the communities that we have, honoring different facets of the cultural diamond to connect with all music lovers, embracing the whole world with a mission of love (agape), and validating symphonies through repeated, small exposures and music that mirrors our humanity.
CutTime is committed to pioneering New Classical: relaxed, informative, interactive and tech-enhanced presentation styles. We see opportunities everywhere to create the inclusiveness, acceptance and spontaneity that balance the exclusivity, judgments and caution inherent to the demanding standards of our profession. Traditional concerts might remain much the same, as long as we develop such effective introductory experiences that welcome, validate and inform casual customers. We believe it is possible to flip the coin of understanding around, in part because the music of Romanticism itself is about shifting perspective.
Let us build a new high standard– for what it means to be a classical musician in the 21st-Century. CutTime envisions a national program (perhaps a school), recruiting, inspiring and training musicians to recognize opportunities and create more that build community-classical connections. CutTime® is the world’s only organization dedicated to presenting predominantly symphonic music as chamber music, letting us create necessary first steps into this overwhelming, powerful and mysterious worldview for curious music lovers.
Discover more key questions and positive answers at this website. We understand it will be difficult for veterans to suspend judgments while they read these. We have benefited from being intelligent, discerning and demanding professionals, of ourselves and others. We ask that you imagine the potential benefits of truly broadening our community. Only classical music lovers can seed their various communities with lasting experiences of exactly how this music can be accessed at personal levels. Become part of the village that it takes to raise new listeners.
Great musicianship goes beyond playing the notes when we can follow the slender thread of a musical idea without breaking to its conclusion. Let us likewise go beyond dumbing down to create level 1 access to classical— out of love for the whole world (agape). Let us switch often to audience-centric mode to serve our art-centricity.
- Use our suggestions and quotes freely in the spirit of community: please credit CutTime.com sometimes.
- Connect with us by email for more information and suggestions.
- Read Paul Morley’s critique of pop vis-a-vis classical in The Guardian.
- Feedback to us or join the polling.
- Read the next section about CutTime Players.
- Support CutTime by recommending us to friends and concert presenters.
- Support CutTime with tax-deductible donations to its ongoing operations.
- Or make a donation online to match our Knight Foundation grant.