Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Sex Appeal and the Sonata?

I never had cable as a kid. I never had cable as a teenager. When ABC started showing Lizzie McGuire on Saturday mornings, I made sure to wake up early enough to be in on the action that all the other kids my age were exposed to daily through the mystic marvels of Disney Channel. Last year we got basic cable in the dorms (alas, no Disney Channel or Bravo...the two I was most looking forward to seeing) but really that just meant Lifetime, since that was pretty much the only channel that was ever on in my room. (Blame R, it's her TV!)
With my nanny job, I occasionally catch a glimpse of the automated TV guide that comes with their dish. Good Lord, there are some really interesting shows out there! The problem is that when I actually see clips of them, they appear to sound better than they look...
First of all, I am so in love with the idea of Ovation. For years I've thought 'wouldn't it be great if there was a channel dedicated to showing live orchestral performances and biographies of great composers, conductors, and performers?' I guess there is, but nobody ever watches it. What a shame. I think that classical music just needs to add a little sex appeal and people will eat it up! I mean there are a few such examples; Chris Botti = yum, a lot of people think Bond is kind of a joke but I still have a burning desire to be them when I grow up, every brass player-mostly of the male gender knows Alison Balsom, and of course who can forget the classic edgy 'good boy' Joshua Bell? Even the few moments I've been able to catch on this television channel have shown classical music to be a scene full of middle aged or older men and women wearing suits and speaking in stuffy accents. At the risk of condoning the objectification of women, I have to say that I was thrilled to see that Playboy made a list of today's hottest classical musicians! Although I couldn't help but notice that they are almost all violinists or opera singers...looks like I'm just going to have to work extra hard to make the list next time!
This reminds me of a project I did in fourth grade. Our elementary school had a symposium called 'Project Showcase' where each kid did a project (anything they wanted to do; a posterboard, a movie, baking cookies...) about anything (pets, volcanos, ...classical music?) that interested them. I of course decided to do my project about music, but I had no idea what sort of project would interest people. So I made a sort of music video. I picked about fifteen short pieces (I mean really short, like the snippets you get in elementary music books) and researched both the composers and the pieces themselves. In the movie, (standing in front of a table-cloth background in my American Girl Christmas dress) I introduced each piece with that information then I played them. Granted, this video was in no way sexy, but it just shows how from an early age (even before I knew that music was what I wanted to do with my life) I wanted to make this music that I loved accessible to my peers. I will save the consequent elementary music education soapbox for another day. I will instead leave you with photos of my favorite orchestral hotties out there today!

Ok, so he's not around today, but how could I make this list without mentioning Leonard Bernstein? (composer and conductor)

Bond (crossover electro-string quartet)

Esperanza Spalding (jazz bassist)

Chris Botti (jazz trumpet)

Gustavo Dudamel (conductor)

All photos from Google.


  1. I have to disagree. I think that the reason there are many, for example, pop stars that lack genuine talent is because of the idea that looks and sex appeal will sell the music, rather than talent or music itself. I think it is therefore a blessing that there is not the same focus in classical music, as the purpose of classical music is the music itself, as well as the message it conveys, not the "sexiness" of the person playing it.

  2. YESSSSS!!!!! Classical music has unfairly been given a reputation for being "pretentious" and "uppity", when it really isn't! I personally believe that we can prove this to be false if we made it a little more "relatable" (i.e. more attractive, more energetic, less rigid performers) we could definitely put classical music into a more accepted light. Thanks for posting!

  3. I'm sorry! I didn't mean to suggest that sex appeal should replace talent, ingenuity, or musicality in any way. I'm just brainstorming ways to make it seem less dusty and boring to the general population.