Wednesday, December 31, 2014

My hopes for the music world in 2015

New years bring new fears - this one more than any I can remember.

Interesting to glance back at where we were last time. Here is that list. 

Progress? First of all, our consciousness-raising about gender equality (lack thereof) and sexism in the industry started to do some good, though there's a long way to go. Then, in concert, there was indeed plenty of Panufnik. And a few people have performed other interesting programmes, too. As for absent friends, Sokolov is still not coming to Britain, but Zimerman's name is in the LSO's schedule for July 2015, when he'll play Brahms's Piano Concerto No.1 with Simon Rattle conducting.

But Rattle still has not confirmed or denied that he'll take over the LSO's podium wholesale; we do know, however, that there will be no new London hall for him in the Olympic park redevelopment. Meanwhile Mayor Boris has delivered the coup-de-grace to Southbank Centre's redevelopment plans by taking sides with a small group of intractable skateboarders, rather than supporting the largest possible access to the arts for the largest number of Londoners (yes, really, o surprised overseas friends in sensible places - you couldn't make it up.) Generally, arts organisations are struggling, more so than before, and the senseless bullying and witch-hunting over different varieties of rubbish has got worse.

Top ten hopes for 2015? I almost can't look...

1. That we emerge from the general election in May with a government that will drop crackpot ideology in favour of down-to-earth measures to help to create a fairer and happier society, and that will recognise that nothing can change unless it changes at the level of education. We need good, free education for every child, in which music and the arts can play a central role at a strong level. This means we also need excellently trained music teachers, the encouragement of parental involvement in practising, and instruments made available to borrow, or to rent at a pittance. Education is the single most important issue facing the music world at the moment.

2. That we can change some of the narratives that are currently parroted about in the arts world (and beyond) yet make little practical sense.

3. That we emerge into 2016 with all our orchestras, opera companies, ballet companies, choirs and youth music organisations fully intact.

4. That people decide it's better to have a sense of proportion and stop the knee-jerk petty offence-taking over trivialities. My advice is: don't sweat the small stuff - because if you do, then how are you going to cope with real trouble?

5. That nobody goes to war with anybody else.

6. That the Leeds Piano Competition can find a worthy successor to Dame Fanny Waterman and that the cavalcade of contests for the instrument in 2015 - Dublin, Leeds, Warsaw, Moscow - will find winners equally as interesting as the last lot (Trifonov, Colli, et al).

7. That more would-be music students in Britain realise that as EU citizens they can receive tertiary training free of charge in some places on mainland Europe, and consequently make sure they learn German.

8. That proven facts can be noted more than paranoid fantasies. Truth is not simply what you want to believe. Truth is found in scientific observation. Like it or lump it.

9. That news starts bringing us actual news instead of gossip about a "celebrity's" backside. The other day I picked up a free newspaper on a train and had to turn to page 28 (or was it 36?) to find even one paragraph about Ukraine.

10. That there is still such a thing as professional music journalism in 2016.