I’ve noticed that every month or so I run across another article lauding an ambitious group of young chamber musicians for forging their own non-traditional path: playing in nightclubs and bars, using non-standard setups, playing amplified, writing/commissioning all-original repertoire, etc. This is what indie rock bands have done for decades, hence the oft-used labels “indie classical” or “alt classical”. And I think it’s great that classically trained musicians are doing this—what better proof of the vibrancy of chamber music?
But… most of the articles I’ve seen focus either on (1) “Isn’t it great what those kids are doing?” or (2) “Does this qualify as classical music?” I personally think those are two of the least interesting questions to ask about the “indie rock”-ification of chamber music. There’s a lot to learn by taking a critical look at this trend, weighing the pros and cons, and trying to figure out what this means for music and musicians at large. (more…)