This summer I spent a sizable amount of time in my trusty Town and Country driving from Northern Michigan, south to Bloomington, west to Northfield, MN, and east back toward Petoskey. Driving is an opportunity to scan the airwaves for trends. What kind of music do people listen to? What message and meaning does this music have and what does it say about the people that listen to it?
One trend I’ve tuned into is the “party anthem”. Electric soundscapes and deep bass provide a backdrop for their Carpe diem proclamation. “But we young right now / We got right now” (Right Now: Rihanna), “It’s our party we can do what we want… say what we want… love who we want… kiss who we want… see who we want” (We Can’t Stop: Miley Cryrus), or “Lets make the most of the night like we’re going to die young” (Die Young: Ke$sha).
Young people sense the undercurrent of uncertainty that is so pervasive in the world today and their solution is a kind of hedonistic escapism. The night promises high-times that are exciting enough to keep our worries at bay, at least until morning. While there is a time and place for letting off some steam, I believe that if you party everynight, or even every weekend, it ceases to be a party. After a while, we become desensitized to what a “good time” really is. I feel fortunate to be working in the field of music performance. While not every second of every day is filled with glory, it is ultimately rewarding. There is nothing quite like the solace of playing chamber music with colleagues or listening to a truly inspiring performance. Catharsis, real emotional release, is not easy to find in the sea of media in which we are drowning. Perhaps that is why performing classical music is important to me. The uncertainty of our future dissolves as we share a meaningful experience with each other, and, even if it is only for a couple minutes, we don’t feel like we have to escape, but we face the moment and live in it.