con•serve (verb) – protect (something, esp. an environmentally or culturally important place or thing) from harm or destruction
several times in the past two weeks, i’ve been presented with the question of how to fix the conservatory. the first thing i say to myself after being broached with such a question is, “is it worth saving?”many call it a giant pyramid scheme while others refer to it as the thing we need most right now in the world. many think my view on the dilemma is pretty radical (destroy it all) but this stems from the idea that there is an inherent badness in the institution we have created.
the definition of conserve above sounds important and places at the heart of the conservatory some sort of validity: we are preserving our institution, that of art music with a capital A, from harm and or destruction. but in the recent past, we have become the destroyers. the western classical art music tradition is one so tied to the past that conservation has become an addiction. unlike our predecessors who lived in the music which we now revere, we shun the music of now. yes, it is being made, produced, consumed but not conserved. and we have no excuse. the likes of Ives and Cage are not newfangled — in many ways they’re severely outdated. it’s been a hundred years but, as in geologic time, that seems like a nanosecond.
the great museum of the conservatory conserves bad habits and outdated ideas. many are failing because they don’t live in the real (non-musical) world. so what do we do, do we tear it all down and start again? for me, as much as Bach shaped my life, what squarely placed me on my way was Berg. and composers will survive, they always do. Bach was lost to us for 150 years and then, as if it had been predicted, came back to us. there’s no need to “conserve”, we are not mother hens. the only ones who can destroy our art is us.
none of that answers my initial question and i don’t think there is an answer. as a product of this system, i am very grateful but i am also grateful for the fact that i refused to let myself be swallowed up by it. there is an inherent protection in teaching our students everything about our world. they will learn to take care of it, do what’s best for it. trust in that and let it be a living, breathing thing before the conservatory turns into a mausoleum.
sorry i’ve been away for so long. as you can guess, i was busy. but my thesis is finished and i am a new woman. if you’d like to read the document (Poetry of Women, History of Men: The Role of Women and Gender in Benjamin Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia), you can find it here: http://drp.ly/P57bZ let me know if it was worth all of the work. 🙂
i’m not only back to blogging but back to writing prose as well. i’m writing a short story entitled “Memoirs” about a young girl who lives on the edge of reality and recounts her childhood through music. you can find it on my facebook: http://www.facebook.com/imanidmosley
more to come, folks!