Greg Sandow is one of most known US researches of crisis manifestations in today's classical music. He has been teaching a course on this subject at Juilliard School, Graduate Studies Faculty, for over twenty years. He is also the contributor of a widely-read blog on the future of classical music, and author of the book "Rebirth: The Future of Classical Music", some parts of which can be read online (chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
Greg Sandow spent years researching the field both in theory and in practice. The analysis of tendencies and figures as well as participation in live events where he is an active consultant had led him to believe in gradual but steady drift of classical music from the center of Western culture to its periphery. His opinion is quite pessimistic about reversal of this momentum.
Here are some notes from his blog:
Portrait of a crisis (October 2, 2013)
How the old ways faded (September 16, 2015)
Lessons to learn (December 18, 2015)
According to Greg Sandow, aging and shrinking audiences, fund cuts, huge drop in sales of recorded music etc are the results of not being on the wavelength of contemporary life. Not the classical music itself, but the ways it is interpreted and presented to people in the broad sense are becoming obsolete. It does not speak to digital natives, according to the modern terminology.
He urges the musicians to be more intelligent, analytical and aware of current trends, to find relevant forms of delivering their art to today's and future audiences. Enquiring minds, wide erudition beyond the music, readiness to experiment, entrepreneurial skills and more along the same lines are the traits the new generation of classical musicians needs to a much greater extent than the previous ones.
Some words from his 2016 New Year input:
"As we head into 2016, we - meaning we in classical music - have to focus more than ever on the future...
The new audience isn't coming to old-style events. Not in numbers large enough to keep things going. The world has changed. People have changed. We have to do something new.
We don't just want to plan new-style events, coexisting with what we've been doing for years. We have to look to the future when all the events will be new-style. We have to plan for this now. The new-style events we do now aren't just something nice, something we do on the side. They're our path to the future."
There are a lot of those who do not perceive the situation to be in a such an alarming state. In Europe and especially in Asia, they say, the things go much better than in North America. Fair point. But probably, the truth is also that if we want to see what will happen in Europe within the nearest 10 years we have to look at what is happening in the USA today.