You may or may not have noticed that I am fond of polls. (If you haven't, please check to make sure that all lobes of your brain are in their full upright and locked positions.) I like writing them. I like voting in them. I like reading the results (vote, damn it!). In college, I won two penny-ante gift certificates to a mediocre local restaurant by voting compulsively in the (dull as a comatose actuary) online poll sponsored by the college development office. Those two bagelwiches changed my life.
Seriously, though, there is something profoundly reassuring about polls. They dice the world into neat little bite-size pieces. They elucidate your options. They allow you the luxury of making a choice without the pain or inconvenience of its consequences. Polls are decision-making lite: all the taste, none of the calories.
So I couldn't help but pay attention when I spotted the poll on local musical talent in the Indy Star's online cultural section. Apparently, 23% of internet readers think Indy is a rock 'n roll city. 22% think the indie rock scene is the best. A mere 2% opt for folk music. Eight categories were listed in all. Classical music was not one of them.
Are you surprised?
*Get to the point
I wasn't surprised. The fact of the matter is that no one listens to classical music. At least, no one capable of using a mouse. The only people under 40 I ever see at classical music concerts these days are people who would rather be playing it.
Then there's the advertisement I saw on the back of a theater program this weekend. Sponsored by Citizen's Gas, it shows a spunky little girl in a hat posed beside the following text: Lady Macbeth. First Chair. Lucia di Lammermoor. Prima Donna. Painter. Poet. President. With the support of Citizen's Gas, in other words, this little girl could fulfill any artistic dream (I fail to see how natural gas facilitates one's operatic career, but perhaps this is dull-wittedness on my part.) Nowhere on the advertisement is there any mention of who will be watching or reading or listening or buying the output of our heroine.
Is it just me, or is something ugly underway here? No one reads anymore, but everyone writes. No one buys art, but everyone paints. No one buys tickets to the symphony, yet music schools churn out a thousand wanna-be french horn players every year.
Of course, I have two music degrees and a blog, so I'm not really in a position to condemn. Still, why isn't "audience member" included on that little girl's list of dreams? Who does she think is going to come see her sing or honk or emote or read or splatter paint on canvas? Are we so deep in the thrall of ourselves that we no longer value the arts -and arts they are- of reading, watching, listening, sitting still?
*I am all the audience I need
*I am my own Grandpa
*Wanna hear my bassoon solo?