Wednesday, February 20, 2013

If It's Not Boroque, Don't Fix It

The Chicago Chorale is a south side arts organization bringing a compilation of classical music ranging from current composers to composers from the sixteenth century. After conducting an interview with Megan Baldstron, Managing Director, I was previewed to their specific, tailored audience and Megan explained that their target audience was mainly highly educated, European Americans. Her reasoning behind embracing or determining that type of audience was because the Chicago Chorale primarily focuses on and sings compositions in foreign languages, for example Finish, Swedish and Russian.  Receiving praises for their outstanding translations and attention to detail in their articulation of different languages has provided them with a great foundation of accurateness in the classical music realm. Their performances require their audience to have a certain education level and as an organization they currently do not have any future goals to change and accommodate the demographics of the audience that is excluded. Megan mentioned that many people come to their concerts because the have an interest in foreign cultural settings. The Conductor and Artistic Director of the Chicago Chorale, Bruce Tammen, continued to emphasize the importance of education and how it must be attained before an audience can appreciate classical music in general.

Switching focus to the participants or members of the Chicago Chorale, many have taken on a more cultural lifestyle and are quite educated themselves. Megan mentioned how participants in the choir engage in different arts throughout the city and how the majority of them speak a second language. Many of them are interested in literature and both the audience and the participants are active players on FaceBook. The members of the Chicago Chorale are diverse in their professions: physicians, medical surgeons, professional singers, professionals in public policy and economics however, not so diverse in the amount of education completed. Showing how individuals do not just exude education but are the epitome of the American higher education system.  In addition to participating the Chicago Chorale and their day-to-day jobs, Megan and Bruce stated that the majority of members are involved in other choirs as well.

In addition to their set concerts every year the Chicago Chorale hosts information sessions prior to their concerts, to give their audience a chance to learn more about the piece their about to experience – which I thought was extremely interesting because instead of holding educational opportunities for individuals that may not have been exposed to this type of artistic form or expression, the Chicago Chorale is again catering to the already established educated audience. Not saying that is wrong of them however, shouldn’t there be a desire to reach out to the part of their south side community that many deem to be “underprivileged”?

Personally, this correlation between the arts, participation and education becomes problematic. Is the goal to keep high arts alive by fostering and retaining the audience already established or should there be a push from organizations, like the Chicago Chorale, to generate, educate and expose a new audience to a possibly, beautiful, entertaining, historical and traditional art form -- to encourage thought and creativity amongst the many that may not know enough to know what they don’t know? I completely understand how resources and time may cause complication to the creation of a new audience but on the contrary I think that it is troublesome to exclude an audience completely because of their lack of knowledge regarding classical music. One word: Balance.