Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Exodus of classical musicians

"With stunning swiftness China’s surging ranks of classical musicians have found a home in Western concert halls, conservatories and opera houses, jolting a musical tradition born in the courts and churches of Europe." -- NYT.

Now, that's interesting as it indicates a massive shift in the music scene. Presently, whenever I go to attend and orchestral concert, the members of the orchestra are mostly made up of europeans, both west and east. According to the article, this trend is set to change in the near future.

It reports that there is a growing number of young musicians taking up spaces in the best music schools in the west. And in consequence, the number of professional musicians graduating are increasingly made up of people from China, Japan and Korea.

This doesn't shock me in the least. I just need to look out of my window to see that Cambridge is full of asian people. A quick survey of my lab will show that most of the graduate students are asians as well. So, it's just part of the growing globalisation trend.

However, this article also made me recall a conversation that I had with a grad student from the music department. He mentioned that there is an exodus of musicians from Europe to, surprisingly, Malaysia. The reason is because of pay. According to him, the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra is one of the best paying ones around [not surprising, since it's sponsored by our national oil company - Ed].

Although there are many prestigious orchestras in Europe, not everyone is able to get in. And if you're going to have to play for a second rate orchestra, you might as well play for the ones that pay you the best. There are many upcoming orchestras in Asia that are forking out money to attract talent. And in so doing, their standards are gradually improving.

So, as I see it, the young and talented musicians from the east, go to the west to learn and grow their talents. As for the professional musicians from the west, they go to the east to earn their money. It is hard to predict how things will turn out, as we do not know if the young musicians will come back to the east later.

*** screenshot of NYT article ***

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