5 Aug 2015

The status of classical music in New Zealand

From Upbeat, 2:00 pm on 5 August 2015

Verdi Requiem Sydney Opera House CC BY Stefan Karpiniec
Photo: CC BY 2.0 Stefan Karpiniec

Upbeat asks a panel of arts specialists to discuss the status of classical music to New Zealand audiences.

The speakers are Michael Vinten - President of the NZ Opera Society, Stephen Wainwright - CEO of Creative New Zealand, Auckland composer Victoria Kelly and classical audience member and economist Rod Oram. Eva Radich is the host.

New Zealand composer Victoria Kelly says the real value of classical music is as “a pathway for empathy and education”.

Speaking on a panel on Radio New Zealand Concert’s Upbeat on the value of classical music, the significance of the formative years and the value of giving our children a gift which has the power to transform their lives came through loud and strong.

In an age when there are a decreasing number of jobs available, Victoria Kelly says arts education is a key to further success in life, even though many parents steer their children away from music and the arts in favour of more traditional careers.

Stephen Wainwright, the chief executive of Creative New Zealand, says:

“No one can deny the importance of the formative years. Participation drives lifelong preferences and we also know drivers of participation spring mostly from your family – the research says this quite clearly – and in a sense that is out of the State’s realm. That’s a family thing.”

The State can only ever do so much and it’s going to take a coalition of forces to succeed.

Michael Vinten, a conductor and president of the Opera Society, wrote a passionate report in the society newsletter recently saying it’s time for the Government and the people of New Zealand to decide whether we want professional arts organisations or not.

What my challenge is, is that if you are a supporter of the arts you should be going to something 4-5 times a year – not once every three years.

How do you tap into those people who think they are supporters of the arts? And it’s the same for listeners of Radio NZ Concert.

But Rod Oram, a regular concert attendee, put the pressure back on the concert promoters saying he’d like to see concerts presented in a way that connects better with audiences.

It would be wonderful to see a real burgeoning of creativity of two kinds and intimately related. One in the sheer creativity of the music itself and how it is presented and also in how to build that relationship with people….I think it is absolutely up to the classical music community to be fabulously entrepreneurial in that way.