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May 26, 2012

Given the web, classical music takes a turn for the exciting

Mostly when you think of classical music—whether it’s Vivaldi or Mozart or Bach or Beethoven (whatever!)—you don’t think of excitement. At least not in the traditional sense.

 Image via Colossal

Perhaps you think of good music. Music that no one will disagree with that was/is technically good. What you’re listening to now, however, might not compute with classical music, at least not how you normally consider it. But have you ever thought, why the hell not?

Because many artists are working to change this idea, that is, the strict distinction between what is old and what is new. Musician and photographer Nikolaj Lund uproots the conventional idea of a classical musician. In his series, musicians are fun and sometimes over-the-top. “His fun and often aggressive portraits take classical musicians out of the orchestra pit and off the stage and literally hurls them in the ocean, makes them tumble on the streets, and stagger through the desert,” Christopher of Colossal wrote.

Two main questions could be raised here. For one, do you listen to classical music? And two, do you still consider classical music “elitist?” A recent article from The Guardian considered how classical musicians are attempting to gain an audience. What’s more, how are classical musicians attempting to stay relevant in the digital age?

Image via Colossal

“There’s a trend in our culture to be constantly up to date because we’re connected through the internet, and an art form that would be entirely backward-looking and museum-like would make no sense,” said Esa-Pekka Salonen, a principal conductor of the Philharmonica. “People are interested in what’s happening right now.”

And what is happening right now in classical music is more forward-thinking than you would expect. Others are pairing classical music with Vimeo in order to reach out to the art/video crowd, like this Life of Flowers feature. And even still, for a younger audience (well, it was featured in Nylon magazine), Rome Arca’s “Ghosts and Flowers” is short film set to Handel. Essentially, it’s a symphony-meets-streetwear video. “For those who haven’t sampled classical music since a school trip to the symphony, this video is something of a major announcement: You can like high culture without chaining yourself to a hard-backed chair,” said Nylon’s Faran Krentcil. “(And without giving up your hot pink lip gloss, either…)” We can all shout a very loud “Hip, hip hooray” for that one.

Another example of how classical musicians are trying to gain a more up-to-the-minute reputation is the self-proclaimed “hip hop violinist” Lindsey Stirling’s “Crystallize” dub step music video, which gained a lot of traction earlier this year. And, an older look at this ongoing trend is Josh Vietti’s “Hip Hop Violin Medley.”

All of this—film, remixed music and photography—points to how classical music is transforming in accordance to the terms set by the web.