Thursday, February 13, 2020

Glass Bead Game, alive and well in Belgium

A CD by the young Belgian pianist Julien Libeer has just crossed my desk, so I looked him up online.  He's part of a new generation of intelligent and engaged young musicians trying to steer their way through the shark oceans of the music industry, considering where art belongs in the 21st century and in the development of us all as human beings. As part of that he has set up a Youtube channel in which he and guests discuss these matters.

It's called Glass Bead Game Talks, after the book by Hermann Hesse in which these issues were paramount (if somewhat different - I don't think Hesse had to contend with why a disc of classic violin concertos by the violinist Nathan Milstein should be rereleased sporting a sales-friendly photo of an arty nude). The crucial thing, though, is not that Libeer is trying to provide answers - he isn't; it is that he recognises we need to think about things in depth if we're going to justify devoting ourselves to this art - even if that justification is only to ourselves - and creating a community and talking is the best way to spark ideas.

Libeer was a protegé of Maria João Pires, among other mentors, and besides his concert activities he has set up a project in Molenbeek to bring singing to schoolchildren. I thought I'd give him a quick plug here because he is a fine musician and deserves it.