Classical Music, Churches, Clubs, and Galleries: Is “Serving Art and God” Next?

For years I’ve thought that the parallels between the challenges facing mainstream, traditionally-presented classical music concerts and those facing mainline Protestant churches were striking.  Shrinking and (so it seems) aging audiences and memberships.

What I didn’t know until I read this New York Times article was that evangelical Christians are taking to coffee houses and art galleries just as young, “we don’t believe in genre labels,” post-classical musicians are.  So the parallels continue.

[le] poisson rouge‘s slogan is “Serving art and alcohol.”  I doubt we’ll see we’ll see anyone promoting “Serving God and alcohol” any time soon, but now that I think about it, given the high-alcohol content (which helps germ-killing in common cups) of the wine used in Episcopal communion services I attend, God and alcohol has been going on for centuries.

Walter Russell Mead, commenting on the Times article, points out how every generation has it’s own new forms of worship.  Urban churches became suburban churches after WWII.  (I’m reminded that Robert Schuller started out holding services at a drive-in theater.) The enormous mega-churches emerged in the nineties. And now among many young people there’s desire for smallness, intimacy, and an integration of socializing and spiritual engagement.

About two years ago I heard Gabriel Kahane say that one quality so many composer/performers of his generation share is “a hunger for human connection.”  So many church services, like so many concerts, can leave one feeling totally alone.

Rod Dreher and Alan Jacobs have interesting comments on the Times religion piece; you can see how much the issues they raise mirror those in the conversations about the alt-classical/indie-classical movements.

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1 Comment

Filed under classical music/church parallels, future of classical music

One response to “Classical Music, Churches, Clubs, and Galleries: Is “Serving Art and God” Next?

  1. Very interesting! Thanks for sharing. I’ve been reading a lot about emerging churches and these new ideas, but I didn’t realize it was exactly the same thing happening in music. I’d love to read more about it.

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