About neuroscience and music (mainly classical). Exploring the relationship of music and the brain based on experience of two careers.

April 20, 2017

"Coachella is Certainly a Place to See Live Music...."

I try to hard understand the enormous changes in music taking place during my lifetime. As an child, I loved hearing the Cleveland Orchestra in my hometown, but the music that orchestra makes today, though by some measures at an even higher level, is no longer what most people mean when they play or speak of “music.” 

Performing arts organizations of all sizes, from small Music at Gretna to the massive Metropolitan Opera are scrambling to retain audiences to support their missions without having to drain dry the wells of patronage. For too many people our music tends to be “classical” in the worst sense of that term: old music outmoded and forgotten. I find myself a little sheepish when I respond to the question: ”What kind of music do you play?” The response is usually a conversation-stopping, “Oh.”

That all came up again this week in my winter hometown, Palm Springs California. The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival ("Coachella") came to Indio. Though that is 22 miles away, many of the expected 200,000 "fans" paying at least $400 for general admission, some arriving in VW vans, some on commercial flights, some in private planes from LA or Bermuda, spilled out into the restaurants and hundreds of hotels in Palm Springs. The promoters expect to "gross" way over $100 million and pay headliners each $3-4 mil to perform. The 345 restrooms and 6 stages inside huge tents on 700 acres of desert are astounding. The event presents "a whirlpool of commercial potential" according to The New Yorker.

Read more by John Seabrook and Carrie Battan