PART 3: Allowing Creativity
After so many chapters outlining problems—illusions, delusions, myths, ways in which WCM falls short (especially for performers) of what it’s imagined to be—it is more than time for us to start to look at solutions.
We can begin by reminding ourselves—in view of the extraordinary skills that are now taken for granted throughout the profession—how richly performers deserve to be respected and celebrated for their own musicianship; to have rights and opportunities to offer insights and to have those heard and valued, praised and properly rewarded. But these opportunities will only become routine once many persuasive examples of performers being more creative with scores are available in live and recorded performances. And so the purpose of this Part 3 of Challenging Performance: Classical Music Performance Norms and How to Escape Them is to offer a route to that desirable destination, where truly creative performance of canonical scores becomes exciting for many listeners and for many in gatekeeping roles across the profession.
In Chapter 18, therefore, we look first at creativity in principle, and see how it’s become taken for granted in another major performance artform, classical theatre. Chapter 19 brings together key points made in earlier chapters about the ethics of performance and what we owe to composers, performers and listeners, so that we can be clear about what really matters when we make music using a score. Chapter 20 summarises why it’s so important to begin to perform classical scores differently, and then looks at some simple techniques we can use to get started. Chapter 21 pulls together previous examples from early recordings showing a variety of historical approaches to singing and playing differently. Chapter 22 looks at the essential criteria for a successful performance and at how we might evaluate performances that are more varied.
Then in Chapters 23 and 24 (24 on opera) we look at a variety of recent experimental approaches to performing scores creatively. These examples are made by a variety of performers, each taking a different approach and with different motivations and aims. Their purpose is to show how much more might be possible, and how each musician can take scores in new and genuinely individual directions.