"Saving Classical Music"
By Alvin Firmeza

Entry #1

Arrange venues or occasions where rare and semi-rare repertoire, including contemporary music, can be heard. An inspection of concert schedules like that found in BBC Music Magazine reveals the surprising fact that only very piano few concertos are actually being regularly performed while there are hundreds of piano concertos. Or that certain pieces and composers seem to be confined to national boundaries. Solo Liszt is hardly a staple in recitals except for a select number of pieces.

Incidentally, this will reverse the usual pattern of a recording following a live performance and could inaugurate a rethinking of the relationship between the two. Since people would have already heard a new or rare (or even an old or played to death) piece at the relatively low Naxos prices, they might be more easily induced to pay for a little but more to attend a live performance. I'm sure there are many Naxos fans who after hearing a recording of a Kraus symphony played by the Swedish Chamber Orchestra or the Rawsthorne piano concertos played by Donohue would be curious to hear them live at least once. I myself would very much like to hear Jeno Jendo play all of the Annees in a live performance.

A piano festival or a more spaced-out recital series, featuring both Naxos and soon-to-be-Naxos artists, easily suggests itself as one way to allow rare repertoire to be heard as it is relatively easy and cheap to organize.

Concertos require bigger forces but also somehow generate a bigger impact precisely because of this. Since Peter Donohue is starting a British concerto series, a London series could be organized featuring those concertos that have already recently appeared (and not before) in the series. I'm quite sure this is a marketing technique that has not been or hardly employed in the classical recording business.

National preferences can also be catered to. One can presume that there would be a substantial Spanish audience for live performances of the Spanish music that Naxos is currently recording in great amounts. A variation of this could be say an American music series in the UK or in France. A concert or series of concerts of American composers who studied in Paris for example. Has anyone thought of taking advantage of the Chinese diaspora in Europe as audience for Chinese orchestral music? This is a huge market if only they could be induced to come to the concert hall.

Programs can also be organized featuring instruments that are rarely heard in recitals like the trombone, horn, bassoon, viola and contrabass. This will also be an opportunity to showcase the talents of exceptional virtuosos like Niklas Eklund who unlike pianists and singers have less recital opportunities because of their instrument.

This will be closing the circle of the rare repertoire finding their way only in recordings because of their rarity and now finding their way back again to the concert hall after a life as a recording -- thanks to Naxos.

Entry #2

Anime opera! How better to save classical music. The day might yet come when children (and adults) in all of the world's continents will be humming Mozart or Rossini arias. Or when parents and children for once agree that watching tv (and watching it together) is the most beneficial activity in the world. Thus classical music could again be the popular music that it once was. It no longer need to "cross over" to be popular.

Some of the most gripping, shocking, scandalous or edifying stories are found in opera. If coupled with the visuals that only animation can provide, we could see the entertainment form of the 21st century.

The possibility of anime opera to attract huge audiences for classical music is suggested by the success of Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter or, for examples further back in time, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and the Harrison Ford Raiders of the Lost Ark (which despite the use of real persons successfully suggested a flat or two-dimensional appearance on screen to remind the viewer of its comics origin).

All the possibilities and advantages of digital technology can be harnessed to create a new and successful product that is both educational and entertaining.

The artificiality of opera seems to call for a cartoon treatment. Yet animation's three-dimensional presentation will in some ways be an improvement over the two-dimensions of the traditional stage. Animation offers the advantages of both theater and movies without their disadvantages. For example, animation could create the effects demanded by Baroque opera better than either theater or film. Another bonus of animation is that those who find operatic singing distracting will be spared the distraction.

There can be two types of treatment: the music and the text may be rendered in a straightforward manner or for a more realistic effect an adaptation may be made, with only the most important music carried over into the animated product.

The animation styles can be as varied as there are cartoon and comics styles. Some operas will work better using a Disney style (like the dwarves singing in Snow White and the Seven Dwarves) while others will need the Japanese mangga.

Madame Butterfly, Handel's Giulio Cesare, the entire Ring cycle, Cosi fan tutte, Don Giovanni, the Flying Dutchman and Strauss' operas seem to be prime candidates for animation. Already mentioned are the Baroque operas, especially French Baroque, whose staging requirements would seem to be best served by animation. Even the Matthaus Passion I think would work well in animation.

Not only opera could be animated. What was done with literature in the Naxos audiobooks could be carried one step further by animating them.

New opera (full-length operas as well as half-hour mini-operas) intended for animation can also be composed.

The artistic challenges in all this is great and the expense might be considerable, but the results both artistic and financial are such as to make a try worthwhile.