Daily Bow: Reinventing Classical Performers and Audiences

Daily Bow LogoWhile Tuesday’s Daily Bow looked at an organization which has “reinvented” itself over the years to stay a thriving and growing entity, today we look at “classical reinvention” of the art itself.

Classical Reinvention is an organization that explores innovative approaches for marketing classical music to contemporary audiences. Its members are constantly engaged in the search for new and exciting ways to change aspects of the presentation of classical music without compromising the integrity of the art. This means changing the way the music is packaged, changing the environment that concerts are delivered, and rebranding “classical” in a broad sense, beyond simply the performance element.

Artists, dancers and musicians will be surrounded by audience members who have the rare opportunity to observe art from an unconventional perspective. Classical Reinvention’s “Paint.Play.Plié.” performance will combine different art forms in an interdisciplinary portrayal of classical music. Rather than utilizing a stage, the performances will occur on a single flat plane. Classical Reinvention founder and president Jacqueline Perrin says she focuses on developing a new way for classical music to engage audiences.

“I’ve learned that audiences are really receptive when they realize that you are trying to reach out to them. Audiences are way smarter than we ever give them credit for, but a lot of classical musicians that I know think of the audience as our enemy in the way of our art,” Perrin said. “No, they are real human beings, and you should probably cater to them like they are human beings.”

Perrin was originally inspired to start the organization after watching years of unengaging performances.

“I started this organization two years ago because I’m sick of what I like to call ‘sit down, shut up’ concerts. I’ve been exposed to this art form and I love it so much, but the way it is performed makes it really difficult to enjoy,” Perrin said. “My goal through this organization is to make classical music more accessible to people.”

“Improvisation is interesting, because it should inform how you experience the work. What you are listening to now could easily be different. If you were to listen to the exact same thing five minutes earlier, it would be different,” Perrin said. “It’s extremely exciting, and the communication is the most interesting aspect, because everyone needs to be nonverbally communicating at all times in order for it to be a cohesive piece. Watching the communication transpire on stage is so elegant.”

Perrin said that Classical Reinvention is part of a movement to modernize classical music instead of confining audiences to the typical performance setting. The challenge comes from attempting to please both longtime patrons and progressives.

“These aren’t gimmicks, and they aren’t an attempt to dumb it down. They enhance and enrich and show classical music from different perspectives so that you go away with more than you would have normally.”

Classical Reinvention and Jacqueline Perrin are based at the University of Austin, Texas where the organization was started. Since its founding, groups under the Classical Reinvention name have performed classical standards as well as experimental modern pieces in the hope to alter stereotypes depicting classical music as passive and calm. These concerts range from string quartets to jazz ensembles. And, while the traditional performance settings are black-tie & semi-formal audiences sitting in silence, the vision that Perrin has casted for modernizing classical music lies in transforming it into an engaging social experience, with active participation.

This modernization involves organizing concerts and corresponding projects & demonstrations to advertise for these events, programming multimedia productions in order to draw from a larger and more diverse audience base. Perrin’s goal is to stop people from writing classical music off as a dying (or dead) art.

For example, in “Paint.Play.Plié.” performers dance and paint to live classical music, incorporating different modes of expression into the live performance, with such expression being improvised on the spot.

Read the full story – Classical Reinvention changes the way audiences listen to classical music with Paint.Play.Plié. You can also learn more about Classical Reinvention by visiting its page on Jacqueline Perrin’s website.

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