Sunday, September 27, 2009

Diversifying Your Musical Portfolio

After hearing the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's season opener, with special guests, Time For Three, I have become a full supporter of the prevailing philosophy that classical musicians should do more than just dabble outside of western classical music. In other words, they should diversify their "musical portfolios" to include folk music, jazz, bluegrass, and other such similar genres to appeal to a wider audience.

I went to a lecture by Alex Ross, music critic of The New Yorker Magazine, a few years back during National Orchestral Institute at the University of Maryland that advocated this same message. The more versatile you are, the more likely you will be able to succeed in the classical music climate of the twenty-first century.

Just take the group, Time For Three, for example, who performed Jennifer Higdon's Concerto 4-3 with the BSO Saturday night (and held a jam session in the lobby following the concert). The group is composed of three talented young musicians who were classically trained at The Curtis Institute of Music. While at Curtis, they began meeting after orchestra rehearsals to let loose and play some bluegrass music. Their casual jam sessions developed into a group with a sound that bridges the classical and bluegrass realms. Time For Three has gone on to produce two successful albums and they maintain a busy touring schedule. (Higdon composed Concerto 4-3 specifically for them.)

There are many other classical musicians that have had enormous success specializing in different genres, such as the group, Pink Martini (most of their "little" orchestra are former top tier symphony orchestra members ), and don't forget, Wynton Marsalis has a degree in classical music performance from Juilliard. In the end, it just makes the musician more desirable when they possess an expanded musical pallette.

And sticking around for a bluegrass crossover jam session in the lobby following the powerhouse Tchaik 4 is always an added bonus:

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